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Robert Granvi 


Battle of Midway 

June 3-6, 1942 

U. S. Confidential — British Secret 

Publication Section, Combat Intelligence Branch 
Office of Naval Intelligence 
United States Navy 


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Office of Naval Intelligence 
Washington, D. C. 

March 13, 7943. 

Combat Narratives are confidential publications issued under 
a directive of the Commander-in-Chief, U. S. Fleet and Chief 
of Naval operations, for the information of commissioned of- 
ficers of the U. S. Navy only. 

Information printed herein should be guarded (a) in circula- 
tion and by custody measures for confidential publications as 
set forth in Articles 75% and 76 of Naval Regulations and (b) 
in avoiding discussion of this material within the hearing of 
any but commissioned officers. Combat Narratives are not to 
be removed from the ship or station for which they are pro- 
vided. Reproduction of this material in any form is not author- 
ized except by specific approval of the Director of Naval 

Officers who have participated in the operations recounted 
herein are invited to forward to the Director of Naval Intel- 
ligence, via their commanding officers, accounts of personal 
experiences and observations which they esteem to have value 
for historical and instructional purposes. It is hoped that such 
contributions will increase the value and render ever more au- 
thoritative such new editions of these publications as may be 
promulgated to the service in the future. 

When the copies provided have served their purpose, they 
may be destroyed by burning. However, reports acknowledging 
receipt or destruction of these publications need not be made. 

Rear Admiral, U. S. N., 
Director of Naval Intelligence. 



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January 8, 1943. 

Combat Narratives have been prepared by the Publication Section of 
the Combat Intelligence Branch of the Office of Naval Intelligence for 
the information of the officers of the United States Navy. 

The data on which these studies are based are those official documents 
which are suitable for a confidential publication. This material has 
been collated and presented in chronological order. 

In perusing these narratives, the reader should bear in mind that while 
they recount in considerable detail the engagements in which our forces 
participated, certain underlying aspects of these operations must be kept 
in a secret category until after the end of the war. 

It should be remembered also that the observations of men in battle 
are sometimes at variance. As a result, the reports of commanding officers 
may differ although they participated in the same action and shared a 
common purpose. In general, Combat Narratives represent a reasoned 
interpretation of these discrepancies. In those instances where views 
cannot be reconciled, extracts from the conflicting evidence are reprinted. 

Thus, an effort has been made to provide accurate and, within the 
above-mentioned limitations, complete narratives with charts covering 
raids, combats, joint operations, and battles in which our Fleets have 
engaged in the current war. It is hoped that these narratives will afford 
a clear view of what has occurred, and form a basis for a broader under- 
standing which will result in ever more successful operations. 

Commander in Chief, U. S. Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations. 



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Charts and Illustrations 

Chart: Track of the Battle of Midway. Facing Page 

Illustration: Japanese Mogami class cruiser after attack by our carrier-based 

planes June 6th Frontispiece 

Chart: Midway Islands i 

Chart: June 3d. 

Illustrations: Army planes: B-17 and B-26 10 

Chart: June 4th. 

Illustration: Direct hit on the Yor\town by Japanese dive bombers 11 

Chart: June 5th. 

Illustrations: Navy planes: TBD and TBF 42 

Chart: June 6th. 

Illustrations: Destroyers standing by the Yor\town 

Deck of the damaged Yor\town 43 

Chart: Hawaiian Islands: 

Illustrations: Burning oil tanks on Midway 

Interior of hangar, Midway 60 


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Designation of aircraft and ships in the battle vm 

The Battle of Midway, background i 

Preparations at Midway 5 

Preliminary air patrols 7 

First contact with the enemy, June 3 9 

The enemy attack on Midway, June 4 11 

Midway's attack on the enemy carriers, June 4 16 

3 Our carrier attack on the enemy carriers, June 4 19 

The attack on the Yorfyown, June 4 27 

The fourth Japanese carrier, June 4 31 

The attacks from Midway 32 

Pursuit of the fleeing, June 5: 

Task Force SUGAR 35 

o Midway planes 39 

Last contacts, June 6 43 

End of the Yor\town, June 6-7 51 

^Summary of enemy losses in the Batde of Midway 54 

%Summary of our losses 55 

Observations 55 

Appendix — Designations of United States naval aircraft 58 

Symbols of United States Navy ships 59 


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Aircraft symbols: 

VF— Fighting. VP— Patrol. 

VB — Bombing. VT — Torpedo. 

VS — Scouting VTB — Torpedo Bombing. 

VSB — Scout Bombing. 
Navy aircraft: 

F2A-3 .... Brewster "Buffalo," single-seat fighter powered by Wright air- 
cooled engine. A stubby, rugged little monoplane. 

F4F-3 .... Grumman "Wildcat" fighter; a single-seat, low-wing monoplane, 
powered by P&W air-cooled engine. 

F4F-4 .... A development of the above, with two-speed supercharger and 
folding wings. 

J2F Grumman amphibian utility plane. 

PBY Consolidated "Catalina" flying boat, used for patrol and scouting; 

carries a crew of seven, and is powered by two P&W engines. 
PBY-5A Consolidated "Catalina" Amphibian, powered by two P&W 


SBD-2 .... Douglas "Dauntless" carrier scout dive bomber; two-seat, low-wing 
monoplane with perforated wing flaps, powered by a Wright 

SB2U-3 . . . Vought-Sikorsky "Vindicator," convertible twin-float landplane- 
sea plane, long-range scout dive bomber; two seats, P&W engine. 

SOC Curtiss Scout observation plane, equipped with floats for catapult 

launching by cruisers and batdeships. 

TBD Douglas "Devastator" torpedo bomber, single air-cooled engine. 

TBF Grumman "Avenger" torpedo bomber, also has a single air-cooled 

engine, but is larger, more powerful, faster and better armed 
than the TBD, which it is replacing as rapidly as possible. This 
plane was first used at Midway. 

Army aircraft: 

B-17 Boeing "Flying Fortress"; four-engine, long-range, high-altitude, 

heavy bomber; a low- wing monoplane. 
B-17E .... Development of the B-17 with slighdy different lines and tail turret 


B-26 Martin medium bomber, a twin-engine, midwing monoplane. It 

has wing flaps, retractable tricycle landing gear, and tail gun. 

Designation of ships: 

AK — Cargo vessel. DD — Destroyer. 

AP — Transport. DL — Destroyer leader. 

BB— Battleship. PY— Yacht. 

CA — Heavy cruiser. YP — District patrol vessel. 

CL — Light cruiser. SS — Submarine. 

CV — Aircraft carrier. 


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The Battle of Midway 

June 3-6, 1942 

FOLLOWING the action in the Coral Sea May 4th-8th, 1942, there 
was a lull in Japanese operations in the Southwest Pacific. Did it, 
as was popularly supposed, mean that the enemy had retired for 
the purpose of reorganizing his forces for an all-out assault on Australia? 
Or was he preparing to strike in an entirely different direction? 

During mid-May, United Nations planes delivered two to three times 
as many blows against enemy bases in the Solomons and New Guinea as 
Japanese bombers made on Port Moresby and others of our bases. This 
husbanding of air strength, together with almost complete absence in 
southern waters of Japanese men-o'-war except for an occasional submarine, 
seemed to indicate that the enemy had for the time at least abandoned 
his designs on Australia and was looking for a more vulnerable point of 
attack. The enemy, moreover, knew that shortly after the Coral Sea fight 
most of our available carriers were in the South Pacific. Although the 
Enterprise and Hornet had arrived just too late for the battle, they had 
undoubtedly been sighted by the enemy. He also knew that the Lexing- 
ton and Yor\town had been damaged in the fight, even if he was not 
aware that the former subsequently had been lost. Altogether, this con- 
centration of American naval strength in the South Pacific very probably 
appealed to the Japanese High Command as offering a most strategic 
moment for a heavy blow against our positions in the mid-Pacific. 

From an analysis of all the reports received before, during, and after the 
Battle of Midway, it is believed that the Japanese gathered together the 
following forces for participation in this campaign: 


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Striding Force 
Commander in Chief First Air Fleet (F) : 

Carrier Division i: 

Akagi (F). 

Carrier Division 2: 

Soryu (F). 

Destroyer Squadron 10: 

N agar a (F). 
12 destroyers. 

Battleship Division 3: 

Haruna (F). 

Cruiser Division 8: 

Tone (F). 


Support Force 

Cruiser Division 7: 

Mo garni (F). 



Carrier Division: 

1 aircraft carrier or con- 
verted aircraft carrier. 

Battleship Division 3, Second Sec- 


Cruiser Division 4 (part) : 

1 Atago class heavy cruiser. 
Destroyer Squadron 2 (part) : 

Jintsu (F). 

10 destroyers. 

Occupation Force 

1 Ta\ao class heavy cruiser. 
1-2 Myo\o class heavy cruis- 
ers (?). 
Air Squadron 7: 
Air Squadron 11 (?): 

2-4 Kamigawa class con- 
verted seaplane tenders. 

Transport Division (?): 
8-12 transports. 

Transport Divisions: 
4-6 cargo ships. 

Destroyer Squadron 4: 
12 destroyers. 

The situation from the Navy's viewpoint was serious. The principal 
naval force available on the West Coast consisted of battleships with a 
light destroyer screen. It was by no means certain that our ships in the 
South Pacific could be brought north in time to protect Midway. Further- 




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more, permanent repairs to the Yorfyou/n would require considerable time 
and might even necessitate a visit to the mainland. The remaining air 
groups of both the Lexington and Yorktown were on the latter carrier 
urgently requiring reorganization. The entire force had been at sea since 
the middle of February and was in need of rest. In addition, an attack on 
our Aleutian bases seemed to be a logical concurrent operation for the 
Japanese. To meet this particular threat to Alaska five cruisers and four 
destroyers, all the spare ships within reach, were dispatched to support 
our forces in the Alaskan area. 

was necessary to mobilize at once the defense of Midway. Task Force 
SUGAR, 1 which included the carriers Enterprise and Hornet, was imme- 
diately ordered north. It arrived at Pearl Harbor May 26th and sailed on 
the 28th, under the command of Rear Admiral Raymond A. Spruance. 
Task Force FOX had already been recalled and arrived at Pearl Harbor 
May 27th. Due to the excellent work of the navy yard, the service force, 
and the supporting services, it proved possible to restore the Yor\town and 
its planes to fighting condition in 3 days, so that the force was able to 
sail on the 30th, under the command of Rear Admiral Frank J. FletchenJ 

On May 31st, it is interesting to recall in passing, four Japanese midget 
submarines made a "suicide" attack on the harbor of Sydney, Australia, 
possibly as a feint to divert attention from the impending blow in the mid- 
Pacific. The attack on Dutch Harbor and Forts Glenn and Mears in the 
Aleutians occurred on June 3d. This may have been intended as a diver- 
sion for the Midway attack, but more probably was a cover for the Kiska 
and Attu occupation. Fog obscured the subsequent movements of the 
enemy in Alaska and handicapped the efforts of our air forces in seeking 
him out. 

The two task forces ordered to engage the more menacing fleet approach- 
ing Midway were organized as follows: 

Task Force SUGAR, Rear Admiral Raymond A. Spruance. 
2 aircraft carriers: 

Enterprise (F), Capt. George D. Murray. 

35 VSB, 14 VTB, 27 VF. 
Hornet, Capt. Marc A. Mitscher. 
35 VSB, 14 VTB, 27 VF. 

1 Numbers identifying task forces have been omitted from all Combat Narratives in the interest 
of security. The signal flag names for the first letter of surnames of commanding officers have been 
substituted for these numbers. 


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Task Force SUGAR, Rear Admiral Raymond A. Spruance — Continued. 
Cruisers, Rear Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid. 
5 heavy cruisers: 

Pensacola, 2 Capt. Frank L. Lowe. 

Northampton, 2 Capt. William W. Chandler. 

Vincennes, 2 Capt. Frederick L. Riefkhol. 

Minneapolis? Capt. Frank J. Lowry. 

New Orleans? Capt. Walter S. De Lany. 
i light cruiser: 

Atlanta? Capt. Samuel P. Jenkins. 
Destroyers, Capt. Alexander R. Early. 
9 destroyers: 

Balch, Lt Comdr. Harold H. Tiemroth. 

Benham, Lt. Comdr. Joseph M. Worthington. 

Phelps (F), Lt. Comdr. Edward L. Beck. 

Worden, Lt. Comdr. William G. Pogue. 

Aylwin, Lt. Comdr. George R. Phelan. 

Monaghan, Lt. Comdr. William P. Burford. 

Ellet, Lt. Comdr. Francis H. Gardner. 

Maury, Lt. Comdr. Gelzer L. Sims. 

Conyngham, Lt. Comdr. Henry C. Daniel. 

Task Force FOX, Rear Admiral Frank J. Fletcher. 

1 aircraft carrier: 

Yorl{town (F): Capt. Elliott Buckmaster. 
36 VBS, 4 12 VTB, 5 25 VF. 
Cruisers, Rear Admiral William W. Smith. 

2 heavy cruisers: 

Astoria (F 8 ), Capt. Francis W. Scanland. 

Portland, Capt. Lawrence T. Du Bose. 
Destroyers, Capt. Gilbert C. Hoover. 
5 destroyers: 

Hammann (F), Commander Arnold E. True. 

Morris, Commander Harry B. Jarrett. 

Russell, Lt. Comdr. Glenn R. Hartwig. 

Anderson, Lt. Comdr. John K. B. Ginder. 

Hughes, Lt. Comdr. Donald J. Ramsey. 

2 Enterprise group. 
9 Hornet group. 

4 This scout bombing squadron was composed of: VB-3, 18 SBD's and VS-5, 18 SBDV 
6 This torpedo squadron was VT-3 ("3" indicates a squadron from the Saratoga). 
" After damage to Yorkjtown, Admiral Fletcher transferred his flag to Astoria. 



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Commander of submarines, United States Pacific Fleet, Rear Admiral Robert H. 
















Flying Fish 










After leaving Pearl Harbor, these two task forces refueled at sea and 
effected their rendezvous northeast of Midway on June 2d. The com- 
bined force then proceeded under the command of Admiral Fletcher to 
an area of operation north of Midway. 

On full consideration, it had been decided not to employ the battleships 
on the West Coast in defense of Midway. To strike at long range at 
the enemy carrier force was deemed imperative, and it was therefore 
thought unwise to divert from the forces supporting our carriers the ships 
which would be necessary to screen battleships. 

Admiral Ernest J. King, Commander in Chief, United States Fleet, 
believed that the Japanese plans were designed to trap a portion of our 
fleet. For that reason he directed that only strong attrition tactics be 
employed, and that our carriers and cruisers not be unduly risked. To 
understand the Midway Battle, one should remember that our naval forces 
operated under a conservative policy necessitated by the superiority of 
the enemy's force, and under the restraint imposed by the defense of a fixed 

Meanwhile, measures had been taken to strengthen the air and ground 
forces at Midway. The Marine air group was brought up to the following 

Marine Aircraft Group 22: Lt. Col. Ira. L. Kimes, U. S. M. C, commanding, and 
Maj. Verne J. McCaul, U. S. M. C, Executive Officer. 

Marine Fighting Squadron 221: Maj. Floyd B. Parks, U. S. M. C, 21 

F2A-3 and 7 F4F-3 planes. 
Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 240: 7 Maj. Lofton R. Henderson, 

U. S. M. C, 18 SBD-2 and 16 SB2U-3 planes. 

T This squadron had only 29 pilots and borrowed 1 from VMF-221, so that it scheduled only 12 
of its SB2U-3 planes for the battle. 


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This group was supported by six new Navy TBF torpedo planes. It was 
considered of the utmost importance to discover the enemy as early as 
possible and to strike at his carriers before they were within range of 
Midway. Therefore the Midway air force was further strengthened by 
four Army B-26's fitted for torpedoes and several B-i7*s, in spite of the 
difficulty of protecting these aircraft on the ground. Because of the over- 
crowding of Midway's facilities there was a considerable interchange be- 
tween that island and Hawaii, so that the number of planes available 
varied from day to day. On June 3d, the first day of actual contact with 
the enemy, there were at Midway, in addition to the planes of the Marine 
air group, the following: 

14 PBY^s, 16 PBY^A's, 4 B-26's, 17 B-i/s, 6 TBFs, (with 2 PBY-5's and 
1 B-17 out of commission). 

By provision of Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief, 
United States Pacific Fleet, all Army and Navy aircraft sent to Midway 
operated under the control of Capt. Cyril T. Simard, Commanding Officer, 
Naval Air Station, Midway. To assist in controlling this number of planes, 
additional radio and communication personnel were sent to Midway. 
Among these were two experienced Naval Base Air Defense aircraft plot- 
ting officers, two Naval Base Air Defense communication watch officers 
with experience in aircraft codes, and four experienced Naval Base Air 
Defense radiomen. 

The ground force on Midway was raised to a maximum. The Marine 
Sixth Defense Battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. Harold D. Shannon, 
was reinforced by a part of the Second Raider Battalion, which had 
equipment for meeting a mechanized landing. 

In preparation for the attack, ground forces worked day and night 
strengthening the defenses of the islands. The Coast Artillery group 
fortified their own positions and aided in the installation of underwater 
obstacles. Infantry companies assisted by unloading ships, and helped 
make and plant antitank mines, in addition to doing intensive training and 
maintaining their regular patrols. Companies "C" and "D" of the 
Second Raider Battalion laid antitank mines, assisted in beach patrol, 
the unloading of ships, and in the handling of gasoline drums for refuel- 
ing the planes. The Antiaircraft and Special Weapons Group of the 
Third Defense Battalion by strenuous efforts succeeded in having their 
guns ready for action the day after they arrived, and thereafter worked on 
emplacements, ammunition stowage, and protection for personnel. 



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As a result of this cooperation, the islands were almost entirely sur- 
rounded by underwater obstacles, with extra precautions at the more 
likely beaches. Gun crews were generously provided with "Molotov cock- 
tails" (antitank grenades). A large number of water mines had been 
planted, as well as numerous antipersonnel and antitank mines of both the 
controlled and contact variety. 

One PY boat (U. S. S. Crystal) was stationed at Pearl — Hermes and 4 
YP's (converted tuna fishing boats) were stationed at Lisianski, Gardner's 
Pinnacles, Laysan, and Necker Islands to make rescues. Motor Torpedo 
Boat Squadron ONE, consisting of n PT boats under the command of 
Lt. Clinton McKellar, Jr., was dispatched from the Hawaiian Sea Frontier 
Forces and placed under the direction of the Commanding Officer, Midway. 
These boats assisted in meeting the enemy air attack on Midway and did 
excellent work in rescuing airmen down at sea. Had the enemy attempted 
an actual landing, these boats would doubtless have played an important 

Finally, 19 submarines were assigned to cover the approaches to Midway 
on an arc from 240 to ooo° T. Six patrolled sectors of the 150-mile circle, 
three patrolled sectors of the 200-mile circle from Midway, and the re- 
mainder were assigned station patrol. All submarines were on station 
by June 3d. 

The preliminary patrols and search from Midway were governed by the 
following considerations: the greatest danger was that our planes might 
be caught on the ground and destroyed, or the runways and facilities so 
damaged as to make it impossible for them to get off. It was imperative, 
therefore, that the enemy be discovered at the earliest possible moment and 
his carriers attacked before they had approached within launching dis- 
tance. It was expected that the carriers would not launch planes at a 
distance greater than 200 miles. It was necessary, therefore, that each day's 
search be conducted to such a distance that any enemy force which might 
be undiscovered just beyond could not approach within 200 miles of Mid- 
way before the next day's search. A search to 700 miles seemed adequate 
to meet these conditions. 

However, because an area of poor visibility prevailed 300 to 400 miles 
to the northwest, it might be impossible to discover enemy carriers the day 
before they reached attacking range if they approached from that direc- 
tion. On the other hand, the same bad weather area would also be likely to 





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prevent navigation sufficiently accurate to enable the enemy to launch a 
night attack. It seemed probable that upon passing from the weather area 
in the early hours of morning he would wait for dawn to fix his posi- 
tion before launching his planes. This would occur between 0430 and 
Q500 and Midway could, therefore, expect an attack about 0600. This 
analysis 8 proved to be accurate, and the first bomb fell on Midway at 0630. 

Because of the threat of a dawn attack on Midway, searching planes were 
sent out as early as possible each day — usually about 0415. To safeguard 
them from destruction on the ground and to have our striking force in- 
stantly available, the B-i/s took off immediately afterwards. They re- 
mained in the air for about 4 hours, by which time the progress of the 
search and the reduction of their fuel load made it safe for them to land. 
The four B-26's, the six TBF's, and other planes remained on the ground 
but fully alert until the search had reached a distance of 400 miles. 

The Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet, believed that the 
enemy planned a rendezvous about 700 miles west of Midway and ordered 
that this area be searched by B-17's on May 31st and June 1st, if possible. 
This was done with negative results. On June 2d a B-17 without bombs 
searched 800 miles to the west without making any contacts. These 
searches were conducted in part by two groups of six B-i7's flown in from 
Hawaii on May 30th and 31st, respectively. Consequently their crews 
were in the air about 30 hours in the 2 days before actual combat, and, in 
addition, serviced their own planes. 

On these days PBY's searched to a distance of 700 miles to the north 
and west. Coverage was excellent except beyond 300 miles to the nordi- 
west, where visibility was extremely poor. Two incidents during these 
days revealed the unsuitability of our PBY's for scouting in areas where air 
opposition might be encountered. On May 30th contact was made at 
about 500 miles from Midway with two Japanese patrol planes from Wake. 
The enemy planes attacked, wounding several men and putting two PBY's 
out of commission. On June 1st, when a similar contact was made, one of 
our patrol planes was probably saved by the presence of a second PBY.° 

8 This analysis is found in the report of Capt. Logan C. Ramsey, Operations Officer, Naval Air * 
Station, Midway. 

•Faster, better armed types arc now being supplied. Also B-i7*s are being used for scouting 
wherever practicable. 



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0430 10 All Midway planes in air. 

0904 First surface contact of battle. 

0925 Large group of ships sighted 261 ° distance 700. 

1230 B-i7's take off. 

1623 B-i7*s attack ships on bearing 261 °. 

21 15 Four PBY's take off for torpedo attack. 

0130 (June 4th) PBY's attack. 

On June 3d the usual search was made. By 0430 10 all planes fit for serv- 
ice were in the air. Again coverage was excellent except beyond 400 miles 
to the north-northwest. At 0904 the first surface contact of the battle was 
reported by a patrol plane: "Two Japanese cargo vessels sighted bearing 
247 from Midway, distance 470 miles. Fired upon by antiaircraft." 
Shortly afterward, at 0925, another plane reported: "Main body bearing 
261 °, distance 700 miles, six large ships in column." At 1 100 the same plane 
reported that this force consisted of n ships, course 090 , speed 19. Actu- 
ally, as it later proved, this was not the enemy's "main body," but probably 
only a portion of his occupation force. Because of its shortage of fuel and 
the probability that it would only be shot down if it attempted to track the 
enemy force, the reporting plane was ordered to return to the base. A 
little later (at 1240) the special long-range B-17 with no bombs took off 
with a Navy observer on a search of the expected enemy rendezvous at 
800 miles and to track the force already discovered. It was thought that a 
B-17 m ight be able to take care of itself if attacked by enemy fighters. This 
plane failed to locate the "main body," but at 1640 reported°2 transports and 
2 destroyers, on bearing 261 °, distance 700. 

Meanwhile, other units of the enemy force had been reported by our 
patrols. Numerous ships, it was clear, were converging on a rendezvous 
for an attack on Midway. 

The enemy aircraft carriers had not yet been discovered, and, in fact, 
were not sighted on June 3d. Consequently, the commanding officer of 
the Midway Defense Forces hesitated to commit his striking force of 
B-i/s until more positive information had been received. Further, the 
Fortresses had been up 4 hours on their morning precautionary flight 
and had to be refueled after landing. However, with the receipt at 
1 100 of the amplified report of the enemy ships on bearing 261 °, a force 

10 All times given in this narrative are zone plus 12. 


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of 9 B-i7*s with bomb bay gasoline tanks and half a load of bombs (four 
600-pound bombs each) was ordered to attack this "main body." 

This squadron, piloted by the most experienced of the B-17 pilots, was 
commanded by Lt. Col. Walter C. Sweeney, Jr., U. S. A. Air Corps. 
Taking off about 1230, our planes found the enemy at 1623 at a distance 
of about 570 miles. This force, consisting of 2 or 3 heavy cruisers and 
about 30 other ships, including destroyers, transports, and cargo vessels, 
had evidently been moving toward Midway since the morning contact. 
The attack was made in 3 flights of 3 planes each at 8,000, 10,000, and 
12,000 feet respectively. Antiaircraft fire, although consistently behind 
our planes, was so heavy that it was considered unwise to stay to observe 
results. However, a heavy cruiser and a transport were reported to have 
been hit and a second cruiser was believed hit at the stern. 

Before the B-i7's returned, a flight of four PBY-5A's, each carrying 
one MK XIII Mod. 1 torpedo took off on an historic mission, "the first 
night torpedo attack by our patrol planes on surface ships." The pilots 
were volunteers, led by Lt. William L. Richards, Executive Officer of 
Patrol Squadron FORTY-FOUR. The flight commander's orders were 
to locate the enemy force sighted that morning on bearing 261 from 
Midway, deliver a torpedo attack and return to base. Priority of targets 
was aircraft carriers, battleships, transports. The exact composition of 
the enemy force was unknown, but it was believed to include a carrier. 
The B-17's had not yet returned and details of their attack were not 

The flight left Midway at 21 15 on June 3d. The weather was clear, 
with broken cumulus clouds at 1,000 feet. Some hours later (about 2400 
and 0100) the third and fourth planes were lost from the formation in 
passing through cloud banks, but one of them succeeded in finding the 
target alone. 

At about 01 15 on June 4th, radar indicated a group of about 10 ships 
10 or 12 miles to the port of this group. As our planes approached, the 
silhouettes of the enemy ships became visible in the moonlight. There 
were 10 or more large ones in 2 columns, escorted by 6 destroyers. It 
was probably the same force the B-17's had attacked several hours before, 
now only about 500 miles from Midway. Our planes approached with- 
out lights from down moon, engines throttled back. The target selected 
was the largest ship, which was leading the northern column. It had 
been thought that this might be a carrier, but on the approach it was 



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B-17 long range bomber of the type which operated from Midway. 

B-26 medium bomber. Four of these attacked Japanese carriers on June 4th. 


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identified as a transport. The planes glided down to 100 feet and the 
leader dropped his torpedo at 800 yards, then climbed in a turn over the 
target. It was thought that an explosion followed. Lt. (j. g.) Daniel C. 
Davis in the second plane was not satisfied with his approach and with- 
drew for a second. He dropped his torpedo at 200 yards, but no results 
were observed. As he opened his throttle to pass over the target, he 
strafed the ship with .50-calibre machine-gun fire, while the leading ships 
opened fire on him. Subsequent information indicated that this strafing 
attack caused several enemy casualties. 

Ensign Gaylord D. Propst, piloting the third plane, which had become 
separated from the leader, found the target visually and came up the 
moon path to attack a large ship. He believed he saw the flash of a hit 
as he withdrew, running through antiaircraft fire. Immediately he was 
attacked by a single fighter, from which he escaped in the clouds. Ensign 
Allen Rothenberg, pilot of the fourth plane which had lost the flight 
earlier, failed to find the enemy force and after contact with an enemy 
plane was forced by his dwindling gasoline supply to turn back. The 
results of the mission were indefinite but one or two transports or cargo 
vessels were possibly damaged. 

As the planes returned individually to Midway they were warned by 
radio that the islands were under attack by air. Course was set for 
Lisianski. Three of the PBY's landed at Laysan, and Ensign Propst 
landed at sea near Lisianski out of fuel. On the afternoon before their 
mission all pilots and crews except the flight leader had flown from 
Pearl Harbor to Midway, a 10-hour flight. After landing from this all- 
night mission three crews were delayed on the water all day and all 
night and flew to Pearl Harbor the following day. Ensign Propst and 
his crew were down at sea for 53 hours before they were picked up. 

0415 Search planes take off. 

0545 Patrol plane reports "many planes heading Midway." 

0552 Two enemy carriers sighted. 

0600 All Midway planes in air. 

0616 Fighter group intercepts enemy bombers. 

0630 First bomb falls on Midway. 

0715 Our fighter planes called in. 

Our long-range aircraft had struck without appreciably diminishing 
the enemy's strength. The Japanese carrier force had not yet been located 




Original from 

and was probably approaching from the northwest under cover of the 
bad weather area* It was expected that it would be in a position to 
launch an attack on Midway at dawn on June 4th. 

Early in the morning of the 4th the search group of PBY's took off as 
usual, covered by a Marine fighter patrol. They were ordered to search 
to 425 miles unless four enemy carriers were discovered earlier, and to 
report all contacts fully. They were ordered to return to Laysan and 
Lisianski, as keeping them on the scene of action would be to expose 
them unnecessarily. In carrying out these orders several were attacked 
and at least one was shot down in flames. 

As soon as the PBY's were clear, the B-17's were put into the air. 
Inasmuch as they would have to remain in the air for at least 4 hours 
under any circumstances, they were ordered to attack the enemy force to 
the west, which, it was estimated, were to be found at a distance of about 
480 miles. They were warned, however, to expect a change of orders 
if the enemy carriers should be discovered in the meantime. Finally 
the four B-26's, the six TBF's and the planes of the Marine air group 
were manned and the engines warmed. 

The plan for employment of the Marine air group 11 was as follows: 
The field was to be cleared of all aircraft as soon as radar reported the 
approach of enemy planes. The fighting squadron was to be directed 
by radio to intercept the enemy bombers before they reached Midway. 
The scout-bombing squadron was to rendezvous 20 miles east of Eastern 
Island and await instructions, either to attack the enemy carriers if they 
were located, or to track the enemy aircraft on their return. This plan 
functioned perfectly. 

At 0545 "the most important contact of the battle" was made. A patrol 
plane reported in plain English (the first use of it in the batde) : "Many 
planes heading Midway, bearing 320, distance 150." Five minutes later 
the Midway radar picked up the planes at a distance of 93 miles, altitude 
about 10,000 feet. 

At 0552 came the news which our attack forces had impatiently 
awaited. A PBY reported two carriers and the main body of ships, car- 
riers in front, course 135 , speed 25, on bearing from Midway 320 , dis- 
tance 180 miles. Shortly afterwards the B-i7's, already on their way to 
attack the enemy forces to the west, were ordered to change their course 
and make the carriers their targets. Orders were also sent to Capt. James 

u Group 22, Second Marine Aircraft Wing, Fleet Marine Force. 



Original from 

F. Collins, Jr., U. S. A., commander of the B-2&S, and to Lt. Langdon 
K. Fieberling, commander of the TBF's, before their taking off to attack 
the carriers. The Marine scout bombing squadron, already in the air, 
was directed to the same target at 0605, and these orders were sent 
repeatedly during the next hour, as no acknowledgement was received. 
Events proved, however, that they were received and acted upon at the 
first transmission. 

At 0555 the air-raid alarm was sounded, and by 0600 or shortly after, 
every plane able to leave the ground, except for one J2F, was in the air. 
Weather was good and visibility excellent. 

Of the Marine fighter group, three sections, consisting of eight F2A's 
and six F4F's, were vectored out directly toward the approaching enemy 
bombers. They were soon joined by two planes which had remained 
in the air since the morning covering patrol. Two sections were vectored 
out at 310 and told to orbit at 10 miles in order to be ready to meet any 
enemy planes which might appear from a different quarter. As none 
appeared, they were soon ordered to join in the interception of the enemy 
planes already located. 

At 0616 the first three fighter sections encountered the enemy planes 
30 miles out at 12,000 feet. According to later estimates by our surviving 
pilots, there were more than 100 enemy planes at this original contact, 
including 60 to 80 Aichi type 99 Navy bombers and about 50 Zero 
fighters. The bombers were in a rigid "V" formation, with three divisional 
"V's" of 9 planes in each formation. The Zero fighters were probably 
escorting from a lower altitude, as they were not at first seen by our 
fighters, which attacked from 17,000 feet; but "after the first pass at a 
bomber there were from 1 to 5 Zero fighters on the tail of each of our 
fighters. . . . Each pilot made only one or two passes at the bombers 
and then spent the remainder of the time trying to shake from 1 to 5 
Jap fighters off his tail. Most succeeded by using cloud cover, or, in 
two cases, by leading the Japs into fire from light antiaircraft guns ashore 
1 and on PT boats." 12 

Despite the odds against them, our fighters gave an excellent account 
of themselves. At 0619 a Midway outpost reported "two planes falling 
in flames" and others followed. Within a few minutes the enemy 
bombers were near Midway, their formations ragged from losses in- 

12 From report of Maj. Vcrnc J. McCaul, U. S. M. C. Group Executive Officer, Aircraft Group 
22, Second Marine Aircraft Wing. 


Original from 

flictcd by our fighters. As the first formation approached from the 
northwest, it could be seen that there were only seven planes in each of 
the two leading V's and six in the trailing V. "D" battery picked up the 
target at 50,000 yards range at 0622, and others picked it up immediately 
afterwards. The leader or No. 2 man of the first formation was seen 
to fall in flames as our gunners found the range. 

The first bomb fell on Midway at 0630. In spite of heavy antiaircraft 
fire, the enemy formations continued their run, dropping their bombs 
along the north side of Eastern Island, and on Sand Island in the hangar 
and barracks area and near "D" battery. Scarcely had the high-altitude 
attack passed when Aichi type 99 dive bombers appeared. The power- 
house on Eastern Island and the oil tanks near the Marine dock on Sand 
Island were primary targets and were hit. Smoke from the burning oil 
tanks interfered somewhat with antiaircraft fire. As the dive bombers 
pulled out over the lagoon, the PT boats opened fire on them with all 
their guns, and at least one plane crashed some distance beyond. The 
bombing was over in a few minutes, but a few Zeros remained strafing 
the field and the batteries. 

Perhaps one of the most vivid accounts of the attack is to be found in 
the chronological record kept by Lt. Col. Harold D. Shannon, command- 
ing officer of the Marine Sixth Defense Battalion, from which the follow- 
ing excerpts are taken: 

0622 Dog Btry to Bn: 18 "Dog Btry on target, 50,000 yards, 320 ". 
0625 OP 14 to Bn: "40 or 50 planes on bearing 320 ". 

0629 Radar to Bn: "Many unidentified planes 8 miles, 330 and 29 miles, 

265 ". 

0630 Bn to Groups: "Open fire when targets are within range". 

0630 Radar to Bn: "Many unidentified planes 27 miles, 250 ". 

0631 OP to Bn: "All AA gun batteries have opened fire". 

0632 OP to Bn: "One plane in formation of 20 is on fire". 

0632 OP to Bn: "Hangar and runways have been hit several times". 

0633 OP to Bn: "Eastern Island has been hit several times". 

0635 OP t0 Bn: "One enemy plane down at north reef. Laundry hit. 

Hospital and Contractor's Canteen on fire". 

0636 OP to Bn: "Navy J2F is on fire". 

0637 Radar to Bn: "Few unidentified planes 20 miles, 245 and 21 miles, 

235 . Also 9 miles, 330 ". 

" Battalion. 

14 Observation post. 


t\r\Ci\t> Original from 


0638 OP to Bn: "Enemy planes are dive-bombing Eastern Island. All our 
AA guns are firing". 

0640 OP to Bn: "About 30 enemy planes are bombing Eastern Island". 

0641 OP to Bn: "Hangar is on fire. One enemy plane has crashed on 


0644 OP to Bn: "Tanks on fire at southwest part of island". 

0647 OP to Bn: "Planes coming in toward the island flying low from 200 — 

Appear to be enemy planes. 2 enemy planes have crashed in water 
to north". 

0648 OP to Bn: "Many enemy planes leaving on bearing 300 ". 

0648 OP to Bn: "1 enemy plane has crashed on Eastern Island. 1 enemy 

plane has crashed near C battery." 
0650 Dog Btry to Bn: "One casualty in Dog Btry". 

0653 Radar to Bn: "Many planes 9 miles, 235 and 27 miles, 315 . Many 
planes 33 miles, 310 ". 

0655 OP to Bn: "All enemy planes have left the area". 

0656 OP to Bn: "2 friendly planes, fighters, have landed". 

At 0701 two batteries opened fire again for a few seconds on a single 
plane appearing to the south. By 0715 all enemy planes had left and a 
message was broadcast: "Fighters land, refuel by division, Fifth division 
first." "A pitifully few fighters returned in answer to this message, and 
it was strongly suspected that there were not more to land." 15 

Of the 27 fighter planes of the Marine air group which intercepted the 
enemy bombers, 15 were missing and 7 severely damaged. 16 They had, 
however, inflicted greater damage on the enemy. Known Japanese 
losses amounted to 43 planes by fighter action alone, exclusive of an 
unknown number shot down by our missing fliers. Pilots believed that 
there were at least three 27-plane formations at the beginning of the 
battle. In view of the relatively small number of bombs which fell on 
Midway, it is evident that these formations suffered large losses. Our 
antiaircraft batteries were credited with shooting down 10 planes, and 
many more were probably damaged so severely as to be unable to return 
to their carrier, for our flyers returning from their attack on the carriers 
reported many enemy planes down in the water. 

In spite of their success, our pilots felt very strongly that their planes 
were inferior in performance to the Zeros. "All VMF pilots of various 
degrees of experience and capability were awed by the performance of 

"From the report of Lt. Col. Ira L. Kimes, U. S. M. C, Commanding Marine Aircraft Group 

19 Missing in action: 13 F2A-3's and 2 F4F-3's Severely damaged: 5 FaA~3*s and 2 F4F-3V 


Original from 

the Zero i Sento Ki fighter, claiming that it has 20 percent more speed, 
climb, and maneuverability than does the F2A-3 or F4F-3." 17 "No local 
pilot has yet observed a fighter type aircraft with such versatility. . . . 
The only way our pilots could shake them off was to dive at speeds better 
than 400 knots, or to use cloud cover." 18 Many pilots, however, remarked 
upon the extreme vulnerability of the Zero. 

Damage to Midway had been severe. Almost all structures above the 
ground had been destroyed or badly damaged. The powerhouse had 
been hit, the hangar destroyed, and perhaps most serious, the gasoline 
system had been damaged, so that subsequent refueling of planes had to 
be done by hand. This involved a tremendous amount of labor, and 
for a while badly handicapped air operation. The Japanese fortunately 
spared the runways, apparently for their own anticipated use. 

In the face of this devastation, however, the defenders of Midway 
could take comfort in the thought that they were striking back. The 
last Japanese plane had scarcely left Midway when our flyers opened 
their attack on the enemy carriers. 


0705 Four B-26's sight and attack enemy carriers. 

0705 Six Navy TBF's attack carriers. 

0755 Marine SBD's make glide-bombing attack. 

0810 Army B-17's bomb carriers. 

0820 Marine SBU's attack enemy BB. 

The four B-26's and the six TBF's found the enemy force simul- 
taneously on the morning of June 4th. The weather was good with a 
spotty overcast between 1,000 and 2,300 feet; beneath this, visibility was 

The crews of the B-26's and their commander, Captain Collins, had 
been standing by their planes since 0315 that morning. At 0600 orders 
came to warm up the engines. Fifteen minutes later they were ordered 
to attack the enemy carriers, and shortly afterwards the formation 
was on its way, each plane armed with a torpedo. The enemy force, 
consisting of three carriers, one battleship, several cruisers and about 

" From the report of Maj. Verne J. McCaul, U. S. M. C. Group Executive Officer, Marine Air- 
craft Group TWENTY -TWO. 

"From the report of Lt. Col. Ira L. Kimes, U. S. M. C, Commanding Marine Aircraft Group 


Original from 

six destroyers, was sighted at 0705. As our planes approached from the 
southeast and maneuvered sharply to pass through the heavy antiaircraft 
fire thrown up by the vessels, Captain Collins caught sight of the six Navy 
torpedo planes, which had left Midway a few minutes before his own 
unit. In passing through the ack-ack the B-26's met six Zero fighters 
head-on, and dove steeply to avoid their guns. It was probably at this 
point that the Nos. 2 and 3 planes were lost. Approaching from about 
20 on the port bow of the central carrier, Captain Collins in the leading 
plane released his torpedo at about 800 yards from about 220 feet, as 
the carrier swung to starboard well in its path. The navigator of the 
No. 4 plane, slightly below and to the left, saw it running true for 
the target. This plane, piloted by Lt. James P. Muri, U. S. A. Air Corps, 
came in close and dropped its torpedo at about 450 yards from 150 feet, 
and then pulled up over the carrier. 

Of the two B-26's lost, one was seen to launch its torpedo and then 
to strike the flight deck of the carrier and hurtle into the sea. The 
two remaining planes pulled away at full throttle, attacked by several 
of the 50 Zeros which swarmed over the enemy ships. Although gun- 
ners in both planes had difficulty with their machine guns, they shot 
down three or four Zeros as they withdrew. There was no opportunity 
to observe the results of this attack, but the returning pilots believed 
that the carrier had been damaged by two torpedo hits near the bow. 
One of the returning B-26's crashed on landing, and both were so 
badly shot up that they were unfit for duty. 

The six Navy TBF planes, commanded by Lt. Fieberling, made a 
gallant attack at the same time as the B-26's. Of this flight only one 
badly shot-up plane returned to make a landing with one wheel re- 
tracted. Because of the heavy fighter opposition the surviving pilot, 
Ensign Albert K. Earnest, was not able to observe the results of the 
attack or to tell what had happened to the others in the unit. It 
appears that at least two were shot down before launching their tor- 
pedoes, but a B-17 pilot on reconnaissance reported seeing one of the re- 
maining torpedo bombing planes score a hit. 

At 0755 VMSB-241 began its attack. This squadron was divided into 
two attack groups: one commanded by Maj. Lofton R. Henderson, with 
18 SBD-2 planes, and a second under Maj. Benjamin W. Norris with 
12 SB2U~3's. Ten of the pilots had joined the squadron only a week 
before and there had been very little opportunity for training flights. 


nnn | p Original from 


Only 3 of the pilots had had experience in SBD-type planes. Because 
of the inexperience of his pilots, Major Henderson had decided to 
make a glide-bombing attack, rather than attempt to dive-bomb without 

Between 0610 and 0620 these units took off, minus 2 SBD's which de- 
veloped engine trouble and an SB2U-3 which was forced to return when 
a cowling came loose. The 16 SBD's climbed to 9,000 feet en route to 
their target. At 0755 the enemy was sighted and our planes made a 
wide circle at high speed to lose altitude. At once a number of Naka- 
jima 97 and Zero fighters attacked and heavy antiaircraft fire was 
opened from below. Rear seat gunners in our planes sent down 4 Japa- 
nese fighters in flames and possibly 2 more. As our planes came in for 
their glide, Major Henderson's ship was hit and it was obvious that he 
was badly wounded, so Capt. Elmer G. Glidden, Jr., took the lead. 
The squadron dove through a cloud, emerging to encounter heavy anti- 
aircraft fire from a large Kaga 19 class carrier which was maneuvering 
violently below. Bombs were released at 500 feet or less. Three direct 
hits were seen and several near hits. As our planes returned low over 
the water they could see her smoking badly. Of the 16 SBD's which 
engaged in this attack, 8 returned to the base, and of these only 6 
remained fit for service. Two were seen to go down in flames, and 1 
went out of control before reaching Midway. The pilot jumped and was 
picked up by a PT boat. Another was forced down 100 miles west of 
Midway, but both pilot and gunner were rescued 2 days later. 

The B-17's of Flight 92 were the next to strike. This group of 15 
planes was commanded by Lt. Col. Sweeney, U. S. A. Air Corps. Two 
planes carried eight 600-pound bombs each and the rest eight 500- 
pound bombs each. These planes had cleared Midway about 0415 shortly 
after the patrol planes had been sent out. They were proceeding to the 
west to attack the enemy forces sighted the preceding day when a mes- 
sage was received in plain language telling of the discovery of the enemy 
carrier force on bearing 325 from Midway. 

Climbing to 20,000 feet, the Fortresses changed course to find the car- 
riers. The enemy force was located at 0732, but the carriers, circling 
under a cloud formation, were not found till 0810. The B-i7's had 
skirted the fleet and approached from the northwest; i. e., from the stern 
of the targets. They attacked by flights, two elements concentrating on 

19 Possibly this identification was mistaken. It may have been the Soryn. 


Original from 

each of two carriers and a single element on a third. Antiaircraft fire was 
heavy and found the altitude, but was generally behind. The Japanese 
fighters did not dare press home their attacks, which were ineffectual. 
The results of this attack were reported to be three hits on two carriers. 
Probably two of these hits were on the Soryu, which may have been the 
carrier left smoking by the Marine SBD's only a few minutes before. 

Scarcely had the B-17's left the scene when the second unit of the 
Marine group arrived, the 11 SB2U-3's under the command of Major 
Norris. These sighted the enemy at 0820 and shortly afterwards were 
engaged by large numbers of enemy fighters. So severe was this oppo- 
sition that Major Norris decided not to press the search for the carriers, 
but chose a battleship as his target. A high-speed approach was made 
at low level through antiaircraft fire and fighter opposition, and bombs 
were released at very low altitude. Two direct hits were scored and two 
very near hits. The battleship began to smoke heavily and listed. Two 
enemy planes were shot down and two more probably destroyed. Two 
of our planes were forced to land in the water before reaching Midway, 
but two pilots and a gunner were rescued. 


0700 Enterprise and Hornet begin launching. 

0838 Yor\town begins launching. 

0920 Hornet's torpedo squadron attacks. 

1020 Enterprise and Yor\town torpedo squadrons attack. 

1022 Enterprise dive bombers attack. 

1025 Y or \town dive bombers attack. 

1359 Nautilus torpedoes Soryu. 

The situation as the last of the Midway planes withdrew is summed 
up in the report of Admiral Nimitz: "The Midway forces had struck 
with full strength, but the Japanese were not as yet checked. About 10 
ships had been damaged, of which 1 or 2 AP or AK may have been 
sunk. But this was hardly an impression on the great force of about 80 
ships converging on Midway. Most of Midway's fighters, torpedo planes, 
and dive bombers — the only types capable of making a high percentage 
of hits on ships — were gone, and 3 of the Japanese carriers were still 
either undamaged or insufficiently so to hamper operations. This was 
the situation when our carrier attack began 



Original from 

The two task forces under Admiral Fletcher had made contact at 
1530 on June 2d at latitude 32°04' N., longitude 172°^ W., about 350 
miles northeast of Midway. That night both moved westward, Task 
Force SUGAR operating about 10 miles to the south. On the 3d, while 
our carriers moved northward, messages were received both from Midway 
and from the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, with information of 
the enemy force sighted to the west of Midway. It was evident, however, 
that this was not the enemy's striking force, which was expected from 
the northwest. While the Enterprise and Hornet held their planes in 
readiness as an attack force, the Yortyoum's planes conducted a search 
through the sector from 240 to 060 °. Rain squalls and low visibility 
made the search difficult and there were no results. 

During the night of June 3d~4th our task forces moved south-southwest 
to a position about 200 miles north of Midway. It was hoped that they 
would be able to catch the enemy striking force on the flank when it 
launched its anticipated attack on the islands. At 0420 on June 4th the 
Yortyown launched a security search of the sector to the north and put a 
fighter patrol into the air. The Enterprise, 5 or 10 miles to the southwest 
with Task Force SUGAR, took over direction of fighters. 

At 0545 the task forces intercepted the Midway patrol plane's report of 
enemy planes approaching the island and shortly afterwards the report 
of two enemy carriers and supporting vessels, including battleships, on 
bearing 320 , 180 miles from Midway. Task Force SUGAR was at once 
directed to move westward and to launch attacks when it came within 
range of this force. Because it had planes in the air, and because only 
two enemy carriers had been reported, the Yortyowns planes were tem- 
porarily held in reserve. 

Task Force SUGAR headed toward the enemy force at 25 knots. By 
0700 it was estimated that the Japanese carriers were about 155 miles 
distant on bearing 239 from the task force, and launching was begun. 
Unfortunately the wind was light from the southeast, so that our carriers 
had to turn away from the enemy for launching and for relieving combat 
patrols. The order of launching was (1) fighters for patrol; (2) dive 
bombers; (3) torpedo planes; and (4) fighters to accompany the torpedo 
planes. Deferred departure was used, and the launching required about 
an hour. The Hornet put into the air 35 scout bombers armed with 
500-pound bombs, 15 torpedo planes with torpedoes and 10 fighters. The 
Enterprise launched 33 scout bombers, 14 torpedo planes and 10 fighters. 


nnn | p Original from 


Of the scout bombers, 15 carried one 1,000-pound bomb each, 12 carried 
one 500- and two 100-pound bombs, and 6 carried one 500-pound bomb each. 

Meanwhile, no more enemy carriers had been reported and the danger 
arose that the Yorfyou/n might be caught with her planes on deck. 
Therefore at about 0840 all the torpedo squadron (12 VTB), half the 
bomber squadron (17 VSB), and 6 fighters were launched. The 17 
remaining scout bombers were held in reserve in the hope that 2 more 
enemy carriers might be found. Each torpedo plane carried one MK13 
torpedo and each bomber one 1,000-pound bomb. The torpedo planes 
headed for the target at once. The scout bombers were ordered to circle 
for 12 minutes before proceeding to overtake the torpedo planes. To con- 
serve fuel, the fighters were not launched till 0905. The three squadrons 
effected rendezvous at 0945 as they proceeded toward the target, which 
they found at the same time as did the Enterprise group. 

Before our carriers had completed launching their planes they were 
probably sighted by an enemy seaplane. Thus it was essential that our 
planes reach the enemy carriers before their planes could return from 
Midway and refuel for a second attack, which would almost certainly 
be directed at our carriers. It was possibly because of our carriers having 
been sighted that the Japanese carriers turned northward instead of con- 
tinuing their course toward Midway. 

This reversal of the course of the enemy carriers occurred about an hour 
after our planes had left the Hornet and the Enterprise. Our carriers did 
not break radio silence to inform our pilots of this fact. Consequently, 
the planes failed to find the enemy. The Hornet group commander 
with his 35 scout bombers and 10 fighters turned to search toward the 
south and made no contact. All the fighters exhausted their gasoline 
and landed in the sea before reaching Midway, but 8 pilots were rescued. 
All but 2 of the dive bombers eventually returned to the Hornet. Thir- 
teen reached Midway, where 2 landed in the lagoon. The remaining 
11 refueled and returned to the Hornet. 

The Hornet's torpedo squadron, led by Lt. Comdr. John C. Waldron, 
had proceeded at a lower altitude and became separated from the rest 
of the group, although there were only scattered clouds. This squadron 
turned north, found the enemy carriers, and launched an attack with- 
out support of any kind. When this attack was made, at about 0920, 
there were four carriers in the group. The A\agi, Kaga, and Soryu 
were not far apart, the last damaged and smoking. The fourth, the 


nnn | p Original from 


Hiryu, was standing off a distance to the north. Another ship, probably 
the battleship hit by the Marine SBU's an hour earlier, was also damaged 
and smoking. In the formation were two more battleships, four 
cruisers, and six destroyers. 

As Torpedo EIGHT drove in toward the target it encountered over- 
whelming fighter opposition. A moment later it ran into a heavy screen 
of antiaircraft fire thrown up by the destroyers and cruisers. One by 
one our planes fell, but those that were left pressed home the attack. It 
is known 20 that they shot down some Japanese fighters and scored some 
hits. Of the 15 planes, not one returned from the attack. Only one 
pilot, Ensign George H. Gay, survived. After attacking and probably 
scoring a hit on the Kaga, he crashed near the Ahfigi. By hiding under 
a floating seat cushion and refraining from inflating his life raft till after 
dark, he saved his own life and witnessed the succeeding attacks by our 
carrier forces. 

Ensign Gay had been in the water less than an hour when the Enter- 
prise and Yortyown groups arrived. The Enterprise torpedo squadron 
had been launched at about 0749 and proceeded independently to the 
target. On the way it lost its fighter escort of 10 F4F-4's, which later 
joined the Yorfyowris torpedo squadron, so that the Enterprise's Torpedo 
SIX also launched its attack without protection. At about 1000 it sighted 
the Japanese force, but the fourth carrier was not visible from the low 
altitude at which they were flying. At the time of contact, the enemy 
ships were on a course of 270 °, but as our planes appeared they turned 
to starboard, shifting their course to 000 and, before our planes dropped, 
to 180 °. This maneuver kept our planes on their quarter, forcing them 
to make a wide circle in their attempt to approach on the beam of the 
carriers. This prolonged the time of their exposure to antiaircraft and 
fighter fire. Choosing the carrier to the west as their target, our planes 
attacked under fire from about 25 fighters and passing through an 
extremely heavy antiaircraft barrage. Probably the majority of them 
never had a chance to drop their torpedoes, but the attack is thought to 
have produced one hit. 

At the same time that this was taking place, the Yorktowris torpedo 
squadron was making its attack. The squadron, led by Lt. Comdr. 
Lance E. Massey, had been launched about 0845. En route to the 
target it had been overtaken, as planned, by the rest of the Yortyown 

10 From voice intercepts heard by Leroy Quillen, ARM 3c, Bombing Squadron EIGHT. 



Original from 

group, and had proceeded at about 1,500 feet, with two fighters 1,000 
feet above and four at 5,000-6,000 feet as a further covering force. At 
about 1000 (approximately the same moment as the Enterprise squadron) 
this squadron sighted enemy ships. While still about 14 miles from 
their target they were engaged by Zero fighters and dropped to 150 feet 
to avoid antiaircraft fire. 

Our own fighters were able to give them some protection in the early 
stages of the approach, but were soon engaged by superior numbers and 
became separated from the torpedo squadron. From a point about a mile 
east of an enemy carrier the squadron commander turned in for the 
attack. As he turned he was shot down in flames by an enemy fighter, 
but the remainder of the squadron pressed on. Six more fell on the 
way and only five remained to launch their torpedoes. Three more fell 
a moment later. The attack was, however, effective. The commander 
of the fighter squadron saw three torpedo hits on the large carrier to the 
east and one on the smaller carrier near the center of the formation. 

Three enemy carriers had been under torpedo attack, and probably 
all had been hit. The fourth, a few miles to the north, had escaped for 
the time being. But our torpedo squadrons had paid heavily. The 
Hornet's VT-8 had been wiped out. Of the 14 planes in the Enterprise 
squadron (VT-6) only 4 returned, and of the Yortyowris 12 planes 
constituting VT-3 only 2 survived the attack. 

This sacrifice had, however, two beneficial results. First, the attacks 
forced the Japanese carriers to maneuver so that they could not launch 
their own bombers. Secondly, the Japanese, recognizing the greater 
menace of the torpedo planes, concentrated their fighters on the low- 
flying VTs so that few were in position to interfere when our dive 
bombers arrived. 

The dive bomber attack was intended to coincide with the torpedo 
attack, and very nearly did so. Whether the torpedo squadrons would 
have been spared such severe losses if the dive bombers had come 2 or 3 
minutes sooner is an unanswerable question. At any rate, the few 
surviving torpedo planes were scarcely clear when the dive bombing 
squadrons from both the Enterprise and the Yor\tou/n began their 

The Enterprise air group, like that of the Hornet, had failed to find the 
enemy carriers in the expected position because of their reversal of course. 
But their group commander, Lt. Comdr. Clarence W. McClusky, Jr., 


nnn | p Original from 


making "the most important decision of the entire action," turned north- 
ward. After searching for 45 minutes from an altitude of 19,000 feet, 
he sighted the Japanese force at 1002. Four carriers were observed, and 
(both Enterprise and Yorfyown pilots were definite on this point) no 





l Koflo? Akogi?! 


' *• ■ Soryu? \ 

. is 

I" 'I 

Approximate disposition of Japanese carriers at time of dive-bombing attacks by 
Enterprise and Yor\town squadrons. 

damage was visible at the initial contact or during their dive. At 1022 
the attack was made by sections on two of these carriers on the west of 
the formation. The group commander's section and VS-6, each plane of 
which was armed with one 500-pound and two 100-pound bombs, took as 


.1 , Original fronn 


their target the carrier to the northwest. This ship (probably the Kaga) 
lay on the left as our planes approached from the south. At least eight 
direct hits were observed. The planes of the first division of VB-6, 
each armed with one 1,000-pound bomb, took the carrier to the right, 
which they believed was the A\agi, and scored at least three hits. Both 
carriers burst into flame. The second division, which had temporarily 
withheld its attack, now dove on the carrier to the left. Several hits 
with 1,000-pound bombs produced violent explosions. The third division 
attacked both carriers, scoring further hits. 

Antiaircraft fire was light and there was no fighter opposition until 
after bombs had been dropped because of the preceding torpedo attack, 
which had drawn down the enemy fighters. As the dive bombers pulled 
out, however, they were attacked by Zero and Messerschmitt type fighters 
and were at the same time subjected to concentrated antiaircraft fire 
from the, screening vessels. Of the 33 SBD's, 18 failed to return, but it is 
thought that most of these were forced down on the water when they 
ran out of fuel. 

At the same moment that the Enterprise squadron was attacking the 
two enemy carriers to the west, the one to the east was under attack by 
Yorfyown planes. This squadron (VB-3) consisted of 17 scout bombers, 
each with one 1,000-pound bomb. It had proceeded with the rest of the 
Yor\town attack group and had sighted the enemy at about 1000. At 
1020 it had lost contact with the torpedo squadron, which was then 
attacking. At 1025 VB-3 was ordered to attack. From about 14,500 
feet the bombers opened their dive on a carrier which pilots believed was 
of the A\agi class. The carrier was turning southward into the wind in 
an attempt to launch her planes. As the first Japanese plane started to 
take off our first bomb exploded in the midst of the planes assembled on 
deck, turning the after part of the flight deck into a mass of flames. 
Five direct hits and three near hits followed as our planes dove from the 
south on the ships' fore-and-aft line. Four planes of the squadron, see- 
ing the carrier so badly damaged, transferred their attack to a cruiser 
and a battleship nearby, scoring a hit on the stern and a near hit on each. 
The battleship was left smoking and the cruiser stopped. There was 
no fighter opposition until after the dive, and our planes withdrew at 
high speed low over the water, dodging heavy antiaircraft fire. The 
entire squadron returned safely to the Yorktown. 


510390 — 43 — 3 

Original from 

The fighters which accompanied the Yor\town group were too heavily 
outnumbered to give full protection. They did, however, shoot down 
six Zeros and possibly a seventh. A torpedo bomber rear gunner was 
seen to shoot down an eighth. Of the fighters, two planes were lost, 
one crash-landed on the Hornet, and the rest returned to the Yor\town. 

The results of Midway's and our carriers' attacks of June 4th on the 
enemy's striking force were as follows: 

3 carriers: A\agi t Kaga, Soryu set on fire and ultimately destroyed. 

2 battleships: one 1,000-lb. hit, one a mass of flames. 

1 light cruiser or destroyer: one 1,000-lb. hit, believed destroyer sunk. 

The fourth carrier, the Hiryu had withdrawn to the north undamaged. 

Badly as it had been hit, the Soryu survived the bombing to receive its 
coup de grace from a submarine. Our submarines had been notified 
that morning of the Japanese attack force northwest of Midway, and 
nine were ordered to close the enemy* The Grouper found the enemy 
force, but did not attack because of plane and depth-bomb attacks. The 
Nautilus? 1 after doggedly trailing a force of enemy battleships and cruis- 
ers, made an unsuccessful attack and was heavily depth charged in return. 
Then at 1029 she sighted columns of smoke on the horizon, coming 
from the enemy carriers which had just been dive-bombed by our carrier 
forces. Upon closing, the Nautilus encountered the Soryu, now on even 
keel with the hull apparently undamaged. She was smoking, but there 
were no flames and the fires seemed under control. She was making 
2-3 knots, accompanied by two cruisers when the Nautilus approached 
and at 1359 fired three torpedoes into her. The cruisers at once made 
a heavy depth-charge attack. When this passed the Nautilus rose to 
periscope depth and found the carrier completely aflame and abandoned. 
She sank at 1840. 

The Yortyowris bombers had not been on board long after their return 
from attacking the enemy carriers when they were ordered to get clear. 
The Yortyown was about to be attacked. Our planes took off to the 
eastward and subsequently landed on the Enterprise, except for two 
planes which were forced by lack of fuel to land on the water. 

n Commanded by Lt. Comdr. William H. Brockman, Jr. 


Original from 


0815 Our carriers probably sighted by enemy seaplane. 

1 1 59 Yorfyown radar detects enemy planes. 

1208 Dive bombers attack Yorfyown. 

1427 Radar picks up enemy planes. 

1441 Torpedo planes attack Yor\town. 

1445 Yor\town hit. 

1455 Yortyown abandons ship. 

It was on the same eventful day, June 4th, that the Yor\toum suffered 
the first two of the three attacks which ultimately sent her to the bottom. 
The first of these was made by dive bombers, the second by torpedo 

At 0815 that morning, while our carriers were launching their last 
planes for the attack on the Japanese striking force, the radar of Task 
Force SUGAR detected a Japanese twin-float seaplane 36 miles to the 
south. It is thought that this plane reported the position of our carriers — 
probably the first intimation the enemy had of their presence. 22 At that 
time the Japanese bombers were returning from Midway. Undoubtedly 
the enemy intended to launch a second attack, this time directed at our 
carriers, as soon as his planes could be refueled and rearmed. But the 
attack of our torpedo squadrons came just in time to prevent his launch- 
ing, and our dive bombing attack caught a large number of his planes on 

However, one of the enemy carriers, the Hiryu, remained undamaged 
and had withdrawn to the north. It was from diis ship that the planes 
came to attack the Yortyown. 

At 1 130 the Yorktown sent out 10 scout bombers, each with one 1,000- 
pound bomb, to search between 280 and 20 to a distance of 200 miles 
for the fourth Japanese carrier. Three hours later (1430) while the 
Yorfyown was under attack by torpedo planes, a plane of this group 
discovered the Hiryu and made a report which enabled the Enterprise 
and the Hornet to attack her. 

About the same time that this search group was launched, a combat 
air patrol of 12 fighters took off. The patrol of 6 planes which was thus 
relieved, and the surviving 4 fighters of the escort force which had just 

* It is possible that the enemy did not know of the presence of our carriers until we 
attacked. He was first heard to ask our carriers' position 4 minutes after our planes approached 
his carriers. 



Original from 

returned were on deck being refueled when at 1159 radar picked up a 
large number of planes, estimated at 30 or 40, on bearing 250 at a dis- 
tance of 46 miles. There seemed to be 5 groups, apparently climbing 
as they approached. 

Immediately refueling operations were suspended. The 16 VSB 
planes which had recently returned from attacking the Japanese carriers 
and were still in the landing circle were ordered to clear the ship. Fuel 
lines were drained and CO2 introduced under pressure. An auxiliary 
gasoline tank on the stern was dropped overboard. 

Our fighters were ordered out in two waves to intercept the approach- 
ing planes. At 15 or 20 miles they encountered about 18 single-engine 
Bakugeki type 99 Navy dive bombers and 18 fighters at 8,000-10,000 
feet. So effective were our fighters that only 8 bombers broke through 
to meet the formidable screen of antiaircraft fire thrown up by our ships. 

When the attack took place the Yortyown was accompanied by two 
cruisers, the Astoria and Portland, and five destroyers, the Hammann, 
Morris, Russell, Anderson, and Hughes, cruising in disposition "Victor". 23 
Radius of the screen was one mile, speed 25 knots. The course and axis 
of the force were 225 °, but as the enemy planes came into sight on bear- 
ing 255 course was changed to no , then to 145 °. When at 1206 fire 
was opened at a range of 9,000 yards the Portland on the Yorfyou/ris 
starboard bow and the Astoria on her starboard quarter were near the 
line of attack and had a clear field of fire. 

Since only eight bombers succeeded in evading our fighters, our gunners 
had to choose individual targets rather than lay a barrage. 24 One plane 
was shot down soon after coming within range. As the next plane came 
in and dove to its bomb release point it was cut to pieces by antiaircraft 
fire, but its bomb tumbled on the Yor\towris deck just abaft the number 
two elevator. The third plane dove and was hit at the instant its pilot 
released his bomb, which fell so close astern that fragments wounded 
gunners on the fantail and started small fires, while pieces of the plane 
fell in the Yorktowns wake. Three planes dove from the port beam and 
released their bombs before our gunners found them. Two bombs were 

"Disposition "Victor" is a circular formation for meeting air attack. Each screening vessel 
is on an assigned true bearing from the carrier at the center. As the carrier maneuvers, the 
screening vessels conform to maintain their distance and true bearing (though not their relative 
position) from the carrier. 

** Reports of the action, while agreeing in essentials, vary considerably in detail. This account 
depicts the bombing as seen from the Yorktown, 



Original from 

misses, one wide and one close to starboard, but the third hit the deck 
on the starboard side and penetrated the uptakes, where it exploded. 
The plane which dropped it crashed into the sea beside the ship. A 
seventh plane circled and dove from ahead. The bomb, dropped an 
instant before the plane was shot down, hit the number one elevator and 
exploded above the fourth deck, starting a fire. The last plane missed 
on the starboard beam. Three hits had been made. 

It was all over by 1215. Not one of the bombers escaped. 25 The Yor/^ 
town was smoking heavily and had come to a stop. Her screening vessels 
circled her at 2,000 yards, zigzagging at high speed. An hour later (1320) 
they were joined by the Vincennes, Pensacola, Bcnham, and Batch from 
Task Force SUGAR. 

Damage to the Yorfyown proved not to be serious. The first bomb, 
mentioned above, blew a hole 10 feet in diameter in the flight deck. It 
killed and wounded many men on 1.1-inch gun mounts 3 and 4, as well 
as those on machine guns at the after end of the island and in the 
hangar. It set fires in planes on the hangar deck, some of which were 
loaded with torpedoes, but the prompt release of the sprinkler system by 
Lt. Alberto C. Emerson prevented a serious conflagration. 

The second bomb, coming from the port side, went through the flight 
deck on the starboard side, and, still traveling outward to starboard, 
penetrated the uptakes, where it exploded just above the third deck level. 
It was this hit which stopped the Yortyown. The concussion extinguished 
the fires in all boilers except number one. It also wrecked the Executive 
Officer's office and ignited paint on the stack. It ruptured the uptake 
from 1, 2, and 3 boilers in the forward fire room and completely disabled 
boilers 2 and 3. All boiler rooms were filled with smoke, as No. 1 boiler 
was discharging through the ruptured uptake into the air intake. Steam 
pressure dropped and the Yorfyou/n lost speed. However, the personnel 
of No. 1 boiler remained at their station despite heavy smoke and gas 
and kept it going. When the throttle was closed, this single boiler was 
able to maintain pressure for the auxiliary equipment. 

The third bomb, probably an 800-pounder, struck on the starboard side 
and penetrated to the fourth deck, where it exploded and started a fire 
in a rag stowage space. This was near a 5-inch magazine, which had to 
be flooded, and near a gasoline tank, which was protected by CO2. 

* According to some reports, one plane may have got away. 


Original from 

Repairs were made quickly. The hole in the flight deck was covered 
in less than half an hour. By 1340 repairs to the uptakes permitted the 
other boilers to be cut in, except for Nos. 2 and 3, which were disabled. 
By 1350 the ship was in condition to do about 20 knots, and fires were 
sufficiently under control to permit refueling of fighters on deck. 

Fueling of these planes had just begun when at 1427 the Pensacola, 
which had assumed radar guard after the Yor\totvn was damaged, picked 
up enemy planes bearing 340 , distance 33 miles. There was already 
in the air a combat patrol of six Yorfyown fighters which had rearmed 
and refueled on board the Enterprise. Four of these were vectored out 
to intercept the enemy, and in a few seconds the other two followed. 
The first four, flying at 10,000 to 12,000 feet, overran the enemy planes, 
which were coming in at 5,000 feet, and had to turn back to find them. 
The other two met the Japanese 10 to 14 miles out. 

Meanwhile on the Yor\town fueling of the planes on deck was hastily 
suspended and CO2 again introduced into the gasoline system. Of the 
10 fighters on deck, 8 had sufficient gasoline to go into action. The 
fourth of these was being launched when the Yortyowris port battery 
opened fire, and the vessels to starboard of the Yorfyou/n had to hold 
their fire till our own planes got clear. 

When this attack developed the Yor\town was screened by the two 
cruisers and five destroyers of Task Force FOX, and by the Vincennes, 
Pensacola, Balch, and Benham, which had been sent from Task Force 
SUGAR after the first attack on the carrier. This force was in "Victor" 
formation on course 90 °, so that the attack came from port or the port 
quarter. The Yor\towris speed had been gradually increased to about 
20 knots. 

The planes which our fighters intercepted at about 12 miles distance 
proved to be 12 to 16 type 97 Kogekiki (Navy torpedo bombers), 
escorted by about the same number of fighters. Our fighters shot down 
5 to 7 of the torpedo planes before our ships opened fire. About 8 came 
on, one of which fell soon after coming within range of our anti- 
aircraft fire. 

When fire was opened, the Pensacola and Portland were on the side of 
the screen advanced toward the attack. The approaching planes were 
in two groups. One of five headed to pass astern of the Pensacola 
toward the Yort{town, and two or three to pass ahead of her. They 
had already started their glide when our vessels to port of the Yor\town 


nnn | p Original from 


opened fire at 1441 at a range of 12,000 yards. The curtain of fire 
thrown up by our ships was so heavy that it seemed impossible for a 
plane to pass through it and survive. Indeed, according to some reports, 
a few enemy planes circled outside, not daring to come in. Seven or 
eight, however, came through. As they passed our screening vessels 
our gunners followed them even though our own ships lay beyond in 
the line of fire. It seems that only four or five survived long enough 
to drop their torpedoes. Two of these the Yorktown avoided by skillful 
maneuvering, so that they passed under her bow. Two others, however, 
could not be avoided, and they caught her admidships on the port side. 
The two explosions at 1445 were about 30 seconds apart. The planes 
which scored these hits were shot down either in passing the Yorfyown 
or in attempting to pass through the fire of her escorting vessels. It is 
believed that not one of the attacking squadron returned to its carrier. 2 * 
By 1447 firing ceased. The Yorktown, listing heavily to port, was 
losing speed and turning in a small circle to port. She stopped and 
white smoke poured from her stacks. The screening vessels began to 

Inside the Yorktown all lights had gone out. The Diesel generators 
were cut in, but the circuit breakers would not hold and the ship re- 
mained in darkness. The list gradually increased to 26 °. Without 
power nothing could be done to correct it. The Commanding Officer 
and the Damage Control Officer thought it probable that the ship would 
capsize in a few minutes, and at 1455 orders were given to abandon 
ship. Inside, men clambered over steeply sloping decks in total dark- 
ness to remove the wounded, After an inspection on which no living 
personnel were found, the Commanding Officer left the ship. 

Destroyers closed in to pick up survivors. 

1 130 Yor\town launches search group. 

1430 Position of Hiryu reported. 

1530 Enterprise launches 24 VSB. 

1603 Hornet launches 16 VSB. 

1705 Enterprise squadron attacks CV. 

1730 Hornet squadron attacks BB, CA. 

38 According to some reports one or two may have escaped. One was seen leaving with one 
of our fighters in pursuit. 



Original from 

Revenge for the Yor\town was not long in coming. That forenoon 
at 1 130, shortly before the first attack on her, the Yor^town had launched 
a search group of 10 scout bombers. At about 1430, almost at the moment 
that the Yorfyou/n was undergoing the torpedo attack, Lt. Samuel Adams, 
reported an enemy force of 1 aircraft carrier, 2 battleships, 3 heavy 
cruisers and 4 destroyers, course north, speed 20 knots, position, latitude 
3i°i5 / N., longitude 179° 05' W. 

At 1530 the Enterprise began launching an attack group of 24 scout 
bombers, 14 of which were from the Yorfyown. Of the 24, 11 were 
armed with one 1,000-pound bomb each and 13 with one 500-pound bomb 
each. The Hornet at 1603 began launching a squadron of 16 scout 

At 1650 the Enterprise squadron sighted the enemy force, now on 
course 280 and well spread out. Off to the south could be seen three 
columns of smoke marking the three carriers attacked earlier that day. 
There were only 6 to 12 Zeros to oppose our planes, but they shot down 
one of our attacking planes before it began its dive, and two as they were 
pulling out. A few minutes later our planes dove in from the sun from 
19,000 feet. Six direct hits were made on the Hiryu, which was soon a 
mass of flames. Others of our bombers gave their attention to a battleship, 
which they hit twice. 

Less than half an hour later the Hornet squadron arrived. By this 
time the carrier was burning so fiercely that it was no longer a useful 
target, and the attack was diverted to a battleship and a cruiser. Three 
hits, two of which were by 1,000-pound bombs, were scored on the 
former, and two 500-pound bomb hits on the cruiser. All planes of the 
Hornet squadron returned from the attack. 

With the bombing of the fourth Japanese carrier we had won control 
of the air; but it was not yet certain whether there was a fifth enemy 
carrier to be reckoned with. 

1500 Four B-i7's take off. 

1600 Two B-i7*s take off. 

16 10 B-i7*s from Oahu ordered to target. 

1710 Four B-i7*s attack CA. 

1810 Two B-i7's attack BB and damaged CV. 

1830 Six B-^'s attack damaged CV and DD. 



Original from 

Midway had received the first blow of the day, and the battered island 
was to strike the last. But in the interval were hours of acute anxiety. 
During the forenoon our patrol planes continued to report enemy vessels. 
At 0843 a plane reported four cruisers, two cargo ships, two tankers, and 
many destroyers bearing 265 °, distance 400. At 0910 another reported 
eight cruisers, bearing 265 °, distance 320. At 0951 a third reported a 
large vessel, possibly an aircraft carrier, and a destroyer, bearing 262 °, 
distance 330. 

Only fragmentary news of our attack on the enemy carriers had come 
in. At 0900 Lt. Col. Sweeney had reported that the B-17 attack was 
completed and one enemy carrier had been damaged. At 0930 the 
report came that only one TBF and two B-26's had returned. They had 
launched their torpedoes at carriers but had been unable to observe 
results. At 0958 the Marine dive bomber group reported two hits on a 
carrier and one on a batdeship. Before noon (1115) there was an air- 
raid alarm, and the seven B-i7's that were fueled and ready for flight 
took off for Hickam Field, This left only eight on Midway, of which 
four were immediately fit for service. Later two more were repaired. 

In the words of Capt. Logan C. Ramsey, Air Defense Operations 
Officer, "At this time (early afternoon) things looked very black. While 
the reports of damage to Japanese carriers are noted as being made 
earlier, those from the Marine air group were made by voice to Eastern 
Island and had not been received at the command center. Our estimate 
at this time was as follows: One Japanese carrier had been damaged by 
the Army. The losses of the Marine air group were so heavy that it 
appeared their attack had been broken up before reaching the enemy. 
The Yor\town had been hit . . . [The enemy forces reported by our 
patrol planes] were all boring in. Three enemy carriers appeared to be 
left to deal with Task Force SUGAR. ... It appeared that it was quite 
possible we would be under heavy bombardment from surface vessels 
before sunset." Arrangements had been made to evacuate nonessential 
personnel and some planes when news of our attacks on the enemy 
carriers drastically and happily changed the picture. 

Refueling and servicing of planes was extremely slow because of damage 
to the gasoline system and other equipment. This prevented the striking 
force which remained from making repeated attacks on the enemy during 
the afternoon. The four serviceable B-i/s, commanded by Lt. Col. 
Sweeney, were ordered at 1500 to attack the enemy convoy approaching 


nnn | p Original from 


on bearing 265 °, thought then to be about 265 miles distant. En route 
to this target orders were received to attack a carrier on bearing 334°, 
185 miles distant from Midway. The carrier found in this area was 
burning and appeared to have been abandoned. A nearby battleship was 
also burning- Consequently, it was decided to attack a heavy cruiser. 
They reported that at least one hit was scored, and the ship was left 
smoking heavily. A transport was also attacked, with unobserved results. 

Two B-i/s, delayed by engine trouble, took off an hour later under 
the command of Capt. Carl E. Wuertele, U. S. A. Air Corps. These 
planes found what was evidently a part of the same enemy force. In 
view were two damaged carriers, two battleships or heavy cruisers, and 
six or eight light cruisers or destroyers. Bombing from 9,600 feet, the 
B-i7*s reported that they hit a battleship twice and dropped two more 
bombs on a damaged carrier. 

While these two planes were bombing the battleship, six more B-17's 
were seen below. This squadron, commanded by Maj. George A. Blakey, 
U. S. A. Air Corps, was en route from Molokai to Midway when it was 
ordered at 16 10 to attack before landing. To save gas, it attacked from 
its cruising level of 3,600 feet. This was about 1830. Several enemy Zero 
fighters, possibly from the Hiryu, were encountered and four were shot 
down. The Fortresses reported that they scored a hit on a damaged 
carrier and on a destroyer and strafed the decks of several ships as they 
passed. They reached Midway after sundown. 

Midway made other less successful attempts that evening. When burn- 
ing enemy carriers were reported bearing 338 °, distance 200 at 1700, 
Major Norris (C. O. VMSB-241) was ordered to attack with all available 
dive bombers. In order to avoid enemy fighters it was decided to delay 
the attack until night. Because the B-i^s were serviced and fueled first, 
this squadron was not ready till 1900. Then the six remaining flyable 
SBD's under Capt. Marshall A. Tyler, USMC, and 5 SBU-3's under 
Major Norris took off. Rain squalls and clouds were encountered and 
the enemy force was not found. All planes returned safely except that of 
Major Norris, which plunged into the sea on the return. 

About 1930 the 11 PT boats left Midway to attack the damaged carrier 
and other Japanese forces in the same locality. Although the squally 
weather and bad visibility provided excellent conditions for such an attack, 
it also prevented the finding of the target. Having found nothing before 
dawn, the PTs returned to Midway on June 5th. In the morning a 



Original from 

Japanese scout-observation plane strafed and bombed one of the boats 
without causing any serious damage. 


Tas\ Force SUGAR 

0045 Task Force SUGAR changes course to avoid possible contact, 
0215 Submarine Tambor sights ships 90 miles west of Midway. 
0420 Task Force SUGAR sets course to close Midway. 

0600 Tambor reports (to Midway and Honolulu) 2 Mogami type cruisers 
bearing 272 , 115 miles from Midway, course 270 . 

0630 Patrol plane reports two battleships (possibly Mogami cruisers) dam- 
aged and streaming oil, bearing 264 °, distance 125 miles, course 268 °. 

0719 Patrol plane reports five ships bearing 325 °, distance 200 miles, 
course 338 °. 

0800 Patrol plane reports two BB, one CV, on fire, three CA bearing 324 °, 

distance 240 miles, course 310 . 
0820 Patrol plane reports a CV, bearing 335 °, distance 250 miles, course 

1 1 00 Task Force SUGAR sets course at 300 to close enemy force 

to northwest. 
1500 Carriers launch planes. 
1804 Planes attack a light cruiser or destroyer. 

The Battle of Midway was decided on June 4th with the destruction 
of the enemy's air power. The 2 succeeding days were devoted to de- 
stroying as large a part as possible of the fleeing enemy forces. In this 
endeavor our success was limited. On the 5th our carrier-based planes 
made only one unimportant contact, and planes from Midway were 
responsible for the only damage inflicted on the enemy that day. 

There were several reasons for the lack of success on the part of our 
surface forces on the 5th. The necessity for a conservative policy and 
concern for the defense of Midway were in a sense fundamental. The 
delay in reports which revealed the true situation was more directly 
responsible, and finally, generally reduced visibility, particularly to the 
north where the enemy's striking force was fleeing, prevented the location 
of some targets. 

During the night of June 4th the situation was by no means clear. As 
noted above, that evening Major Blakey's six B-17's attacking a burning 
carrier and other Japanese ships at about 1830 had encountered several 
Zeros. These may have been left in the air from the Hiryu, which had 



Original from 

been attacked and set afire about an hour and a half earlier, but the possi- 
bility of a fifth carrier operating in the vicinity could not be disregarded. 
Neither was it certain that the loss of their air support would deter the 
Japanese from attempting a landing on Midway. There were indications 
that they were still coming, and at 21 15 on the 4th our submarines were 
ordered to form on a circle at radius 100 miles from Midway. They 
were to arrive on station and dive before dawn. 

Task Force FOX moved off to the eastward during the night and did 
not participate in the action on the 5th. Admiral Fletcher detached the 
Hughes to stand by the damaged Yorfyown, with orders to prevent any- 
one from boarding her and to sink her if necessary to prevent her cap- 
ture or if a serious fire should break out. 

Task Force SUGAR moved to the east and then back to the west 
during the night. At sunset clouds began to gather. After the Enter- 
prise and Hornet had recovered their planes the force followed an easterly 
course till 2400, when course was changed to ooo°. At 0044 a radar 
contact caused "some unscheduled movements/' first to the east and 
then to the south. At 0200 course was altered to 270 . As Admiral 
Spruance explains in his report, "I did not feel justified in risking a night 
encounter with possibly superior enemy forces, but on the other hand, 
I did not want to be too far away from Midway in the morning. I 
wished to have a position from which either to follow up retreating 
enemy forces or to, break up a landing attack on Midway. At this time 
the possibility of the enemy having a fifth CV somewhere in the area, 
possibly with his occupation force or else to the northwestward still 

About 0217 the submarine Tambor reported "many unidentified ships" 
about 90 miles west of Midway. When this report was relayed to our 
ships, to Admiral Spruance "this looked like a landing, so we took a 
course somewhat to the northwest of Midway at 25 knots. As the fore- 
noon drew on, reports began to come in which indicated a retreat and 
not an attack. While I had not believed that the enemy, after losing 
four carriers and all their planes, would remain in an offensive frame 
of mind, still that possibility could not be overlooked, especially with 
the uncertainty about a fifth carrier in the area. The Tambor s report 
might mean only that the retirement order had been slow in being 
issued or had failed to reach the ships sighted." Therefore at 0420 



Original from 

course was set at 230 ° to close Midway, and speed was increased to 
25 knots. 27 

The commander of the Tambor at 0215 sighted and reported at once 
several ships with which he maintained contact till dawn before being 
able to identify them as hostile. He had been warned that our own ships 
might cross this area during the night, and his report of "many uniden- 
tified ships" was sent in the hope of being informed whether they could 
be ours. However, as we have seen, this report created the impression 
that the Japanese were coming in for a landing, and at 0715 a number 
of our submarines, already brought in to the 100-mile circle from Mid- 
way, were ordered in to a radius of 5 miles. As further information 
came in, this order was modified and the submarines involved formed 
on a 12-mile arc. With the approach of dawn, the Tambor was able to 
identify a part of the force as two Mogami type cruisers, which it re- 
ported as bearing 272 from Midway, distance 115 miles, course about 
270 . At 0617 it received a receipt for this report from both Midway 
and Honolulu. 

The morning of June 5th was overcast and visibility poor. Six o'clock 
found Task Force SUGAR on a southwesterly course about 130 miles 
northeast of Midway . 2e During the next 2 l / 2 hours Midway patrol 
planes reported a series of contacts which indicated that the two main 
groups of enemy forces were retiring in the directions from which they 
had come. 29 

The most important of these reports were as follows: 

0630 2V55 reports two battleships (possibly the Mogami cruisers reported 
by Tambor) bearing 264 °, distance 125 miles, course 268 °, speed 15. 
0632 2V55 reports ships damaged, streaming oil. 

0700 4V51 reports two enemy cruisers, bearing 286 °, distance 174, course 
310, speed 20. 

0719 7V55 reports five ships bearing 325 °, distance 200. 

0735 7V55 reports five ships, course 338 °, speed 25, lat. 31 15' N., long. 

"In the early morning of June 5th the Commander of Task Force SUGAR sent the following 
dispatch: "The Japanese striking force attacked yesterday by TF SUGAR and FOX believed 
to have comprised four carriers, two batdeships, four cruisers, five destroyers. Our attacks left 
the four carriers severely damaged and burning. At least one battleship and one heavy cruiser 
were seriously damaged and on fire. Other enemy vessels received undetermined damage. Our 
plane losses were heavy. Plan now to close Midway to attack enemy force believed 50 miles 
west of there. Cruisers and destroyers gave splendid support to the superb work of our carriers." 

* Position lat. 29°5o' N., long. i75°44' W. 

"Presumably these reports were intercepted by Task Force SUGAR, as similar reports had been 
on the previous day. 

i 79 °55'W. 



Original from 

0800 6V55 reports two battleships and one carrier afire, three heavy cruisers, 
bearing 324 , distance 240, course 310 , speed 12. 

0815 6V55 reports cruiser and destroyer screening burning carrier, battleship 
well ahead. 

0820 8V55 reports one carrier bearing 335 , distance 250, course 245 . 

It appears from these reports that two enemy carriers were still afloat 
and had escaped to the north. One of these was almost certainly the 
Hiryu which, according to survivors, sank very shortly afterward. It has 
been suggested that the two reports (that of 6V55 at 0800 and that of 
8V55 at 0820) dealt with the same carrier. However, the positions given 
are some distance apart, and one carrier was reported screened by several 
ships, while the other was apparently alone. 

During the forenoon Task Force SUGAR followed a westerly course 
to the north of Midway. The only incident was the picking up of the 
crew of a patrol plane found on the water about 0900 by the Monaghan, 
which was then ordered to join the Yor\tou/n. 

"As the general situation (and the weather) cleared," reports Admiral 
Spruance, "it became evident that a choice of objectives for chase and 
attack was the next matter for decision. We had reports of two groups, 
either of which contained good targets. One was to the west of Midway, 
the other to the northwest. I chose the one to the northwest. It was 
farther away, but it contained the crippled CV and 2 BB's, one of them 
reported damaged." However, about 500 miles to the northwest of Mid- 
way there was known to be a weather front, toward which the remnant 
of the enemy striking force was retreating. With a full night's head 
start, the Japanese had an excellent chance of reaching it. 

At 1 100 course was changed to 300 to close this Japanese force, and, 
except for necessary changes when the carriers launched at 1500, this 
course was maintained till sunset at 1900. Then, shortly after the 180th 
meridian was crossed, course was altered to the westward. 

The chase continued at 25 knots through the afternoon. At 1232 4 
PT boats were sighted, returning from their unsuccessful night's search 
for the enemy. At 1420 Admiral Spruance received from Admiral 
Nimitz a contact report of 2 battleships, 3 cruisers, 5 to 10 destroyers, 1 
burning carrier and 1 carrier smoking badly in latitude 32 N., longitude 
I79°32' E., as of 0800, course 310 , speed 12 knots. At about 1400 a 
flight of B-17's passed over. Admiral Spruance signaled his intention of 
launching an attack about 1500. The planes did not reply, but were heard 


.1 , Original from 


reporting the position of the Task Force to Midway. Later Admiral 
Spruance received the "disquieting information" that the B-i7's had 
failed to find the enemy force. His last report of the enemy's position 
was based on a morning contact, and as the afternoon wore on prospects 
became less and less promising. 

At 1500, when the enemy force was estimated to be about 230 miles 
distant, the Enterprise began launching 32 scout-bombers, 30 armed with 
one 500-pound bomb each. The Hornet followed at 15 12 by putting 26 
scout bombers into the air. There was a heavy overcast, and visibility 
was poor. The Enterprise group pushed their search to 265 miles with- 
out making any contacts. On the return a light cruiser (Katori class) 
was sighted at 1830 and attacked. The cruiser maneuvered at full speed 
and its antiaircraft fire was exceptionally heavy. Our planes made sev- 
eral near hits but could claim no direct hits. The Hornet group fared 
no better. After an unsuccessful 315-mile search, they attacked a light 
cruiser or destroyer at 1804. No hits were observed. 

With fuel nearly exhausted by their long search, all planes returned 
safely except for one which landed out of gas near the Enterprise. 
Personnel were rescued by Aylwin. For most of the pilots this was the 
first landing on a carrier by night. 

Our planes had found no enemy force for 250 miles ahead. More- 
over, our task force was approaching the bad weather area into which 
it was futile to follow the Japanese forces. There remained the chance 
that the enemy striking force might turn west toward Japan, or south- 
west to join the transport forces. Admiral Spruance therefore fixed his 
course at 280 for the night and reduced speed to 15 knots, both to 
save fuel for the destroyers and to avoid overtaking any enemy battle- 
ships in the dark. 

Midway planes. 

0130 Midway shelled by submarine. 

0415 Patrol planes take off. 

0430 B-i7's take off. 

0630 MAG-22 ordered to attack enemy "battleships'* to the west. 

0805 MAG-22 attacks one of two Mogami cruisers. 

0830 B-i7*s attack two Mogami class cruisers. 

1305 7 B-i7's (Flight 92) take off on second mission. 

1545 5 B-17's (Flight 93) take off. 

*°From Bombing Squadron THREE, Bombing SIX, Scouting FIVE, and Scouting SIX. 



Original from 

1815 Flight 92 attacks a cruiser. 
1825 Flight 93 attacks a cruiser. 

At Midway on the night of June 4th the same uncertainty as to the 
enemy's intention prevailed. The probability of a landing attempt 
seemed greater when at 0130 on the 5th a submarine shelled the island. 
Our batteries answered and claimed a hit. In the words of Captain 
Ramsey, "At this time our estimate of the situation was that he (the 
submarine commander) was following the original plan to create a 
diversion to cover the attack of a landing party. However, in view of 
the losses sustained by the Japanese, it was felt, when nothing further 
developed, that a retreat had been ordered and that the Japanese com- 
mander was the proverbial one who didn't get the word." 

The night was spent in hard work. The gasoline system had not 
yet been repaired, and all available men from the Marine air group, 
Patrol Squadron FORTY-FOUR, and two raider companies worked 
all night loading 45,000 gallons of gasoline in 55-gallon drums and 
transferring it by hand pumps to the planes. In addition they hung 
85 500-pound bombs. 

About midnight two PBY-5A planes, each with a torpedo, were sent 
to attack the transport group to the west. Presumably they failed to find 
their target, for none of the available reports mentions them further, 
except that one requested MOs (radio signals on which they might take 
bearings) at 0510. At 0130 the submarine shelled Midway without caus- 
ing any damage. At 0140 four B-i/s no longer fit for combat left for 
Oahu. At 0300 all hands were called to the alert. 

Shortly before dawn the search planes took the air. Search was con- 
centrated in the sector 250 to 20 to a distance of 250 miles. Coverage 
was excellent, and within 2 hours contact reports began to come in. 

The 12 remaining B-17's followed the patrol planes into the air at 0430. 
They were already on a westward course when they were ordered by 
radio to attack two "battleships" on bearing 270 . At 0615 these B-iy's 
(Flight 92) reported their failure to find the target. They were told to 
return to Kure and await further orders. As more contact reports came 
in the B-17's eventually found the two ships, but not before they had 
already been bombed by the remnants of the Marine dive bombing 

At 0630 the remaining planes of Marine Aircraft Group TWENTY- 
TWO were ordered to attack two enemy battleships (possibly the 


nnn | p Original from 


Mogatni class cruisers), one of which was crippled, bearing 268 °, distance 
170 miles. Only 12 planes were fit for the mission, 6 SBD-2's under the 
command of Capt. Marshall A. Tyler, and 6 SB2U-3's commanded by 
Capt. Richard E. Fleming. The plan was for the first group to make a 
dive bombing attack from 10,000 feet, to be followed by the SBU's in 
a glide bombing attack from 4,000 feet. 

These planes took off at 0700. Weather was clear with scattered 
clouds at 8,000 feet. After flying about 45 minutes they found an oil 
slick leading off to the west. Following this for 40 miles they found 
their targets and attacked at 0805. Captain Tyler's unit was at 10,500 
feet and began nosing down to pick up speed when the ships were 
sighted. Choosing the damaged cruiser as their target, our planes soon 
met heavy and accurate antiaircraft fire. They had to weave and dodge 
on their approach, and some were buffeted about by the bursts. As they 
dropped their bombs several near hits probably inflicted additional dam- 
age on the ship, but no direct hits were observed. 

The glide-bombing attack followed shortly. Captain Fleming's own 
section attacked from the stern. As he began his glide his plane was hit 
and smoke poured from his engine. He held to his glide, however, and 
released his bomb at 500 feet for a near hit at the stern. At the pull-out 
his plane burst into flames and he went down. 81 Other planes of the 
section kept cloud cover as long as possible on their glides. 

The second section came in from the sun on the beam of the damaged 
cruiser. Two near hits were seen off the starboard bow, then a hit on the 
forward part of the ship. It was left listing and turning in circles to 
starboard as our planes returned low over the water, followed for some 
distance by antiaircraft fire. Only Captain Fleming's plane was lost, 
but two others were damaged by "flak." 

Within a few minutes the Japanese cruisers were attacked again, this 
time by the B-17's commanded by Major Blakey. After some difficulty 
in finding their target, 8 of the 12 planes which left Midway sighted the 
Japanese cruisers at 0830. At this time the two ships were 4 or 5 miles 
apart. As our planes approached they turned to port to head south. 

The first element of four planes took the cruiser to the right; i. e., to 
the north, coming in at 20,000 feet from the morning sun on a course of 

n Captain Fleming was the first Marine Corps aviator of this war to receive the Congressional 
Medal of Honor. The medal, awarded posthumously, was presented by President Roosevelt to 
the flyer's mother on November 24th, 1942. 

Original from 

270 . Their pattern of 19 500-pound bombs was well placed, yielding 
three near hits and two possible hits. 

The second element took the ship to the south, also coming in from the 
sun. Antiaircraft fire was too low to be effective. Most of the pattern 
of twenty 500-pound demolition bombs fell 100 to 150 feet from the 
target, but one was seen to strike the stern. 

Our Army pilots had little rest. After refueling and rearming, Flight 
92, this time with 7 planes, took off again at 1305. Their objective was 
the two carriers reported to the northwest, distance 400 miles from 
Midway. As they flew northward visibility diminished and the enemy 
force was not found. On the return contact was made at 1815 with a 
large cruiser on a northerly course. The first element of four planes 
came in at 16,000 feet on a course of 85 °, attacking from the ship's port 
bow. Thirty-two 500-pound demolition bombs fell with two reported 
hits and three near hits. The second element of three planes attacked 
from the east on the ship's starboard beam. One plane's bombs would 
not release. Of the 16 which were dropped, one is reported to have hit 
the target and one was a near hit. Antiaircraft fire was very light and 
did no damage. 

The last attack of the day from Midway was made by five B-17's 
(Flight 93) commanded by Capt. Donald E. Ridings, which took off at 
1545. Again the objective was the enemy carriers to the northwest. 
By this time clouds had gathered in the north to a heavy overcast at 
12,000 feet, and Flight 93 had no better fortune than Flight 92 in finding 
their target. Their only contact was a cruiser which they found bearing 
325 about 425 miles from Midway and which they attacked at 1825. 
The ship maneuvered violently and threw up heavy antiaircraft fire, which 
was ineffective at the 11,000 foot altitude from which our attack was 
made. Thirty-two bombs were dropped, with 2 near hits, but no direct 
hits were seen. 

On the second run over the target the bomb bay gasoline tank fell 
with the bombs from Capt. Robert S. Porter's plane, 32 which left the 
formation. The squadron commander followed him down to render any 
aid he could, and saw him head for Midway. About 2330 the plane 
radioed "out of gas and landing" and was not seen afterwards. On the 
return the planes became separated in the clouds and could not find 
Midway until guided in by radar. Capt. Glen H. Kramer's plane 

n This was the "City of San Francisco*' given by citizens of that city. 


Original from 


TBF: Six of these attacked from Midway. 




Original from 

exhausted its gasoline before reaching the island and landed 50 miles 
out at sea with the loss of Sgt. F. E. Durrett, radio operator. These two 
were the only B-i7's lost in the entire Midway battle. 
The results of the day's operations were reported as follows: 

0502 Enterprise launches search group. 

0645 Plane reports enemy force of six ships, latitude 29°33' N., 

longitude i74°3o' E. 

0730 Plane reports by message drop two CA and two DD, latitude 

28°55 / N., longtitude i75°io' E. (sighted 50 min. earlier). 

0757 Hornet launches first attack group. 

0950 Hornet group attacks. 

1045 Enterprise launches attack group. 

1 150-1300 Enterprise group attacks. 

1330 Hornet launches second attack group. 

1445 Hornet group attacks. 

1553 Enterprise launches photographic plane. 

1640 Midway B-17's fail to find target, bomb submarine. 

Through the night of June 5th Task Force SUGAR followed course 
280 at a speed of 15 knots, 38 The morning of the 6th dawned clear, 
with a few light cumulus clouds. The sea was smooth and visibility 
excellent. A light wind from the southwest enabled our carriers to 
launch and recover with a minimum of deviation from the course the 
Task Force was to follow most of the day. 

At 0502 the Enterprise launched a search group of 18 scout-bombers, 
each carrying one 500-pound bomb. These were to search to a distance 
of 200 miles to the west between 180 and 360 °. At 0645 one of these 
planes found an enemy force on course 270 °, position latitude 29°33' 
north, longitude i74°30 / 24 east. This force was reported to consist of 

n A Hornet dispatch sent to Commander of Cruisers, Task Force SUGAR in the early morning of 
the 6th reads as follows: "Our air group yesterday (5 June) attacked only a single destroyer. No 
direct hits were observed. A large oil slick with men in it was seen. It appears that one enemy 
carrier capable of operating planes remains. Assume we arc searching for it at present. Very 
disturbing to have so little information." 

* Some reports give this as i74°oo\ 

One heavy cruiser 
One heavy cruiser 

1 hit 
1 hit 

(Both hits may have been on the same cruiser.) 
One large cruiser 

3 hits 




Original from 

one battleship and five destroyers, but by a voice error "BB" was mis- 
understood as "CV" and it was at first reported to Admiral Spruance 
that the enemy force contained a carrier. 35 

At about 0730 another plane reported by message drop 38 a contact with 
two heavy cruisers and two destroyers, course 215 °, speed 15, at latitude 
28°55 7 N., longitude 175 10' E. This placed the second group about 50 
miles southeast of the first. Our Task Force took as its target the group 
to the north which was not only closer but contained, as it was thought, 
a battleship. 87 The southern group was left for attack by long-range 
planes from Midway. 

At Midway the patrol planes took off as usual by 0430 on the morning 
of the 6th, searching the sector 220 to 330 to a distance of 600 miles. 
Visibility and coverage were excellent, but apparently the first informa- 
tion received at Midway was at 1030 when CINCPAC relayed to the 
island the contacts reported by the Enterprise scouts. 88 

Several additional B-i7's had been sent to Midway on the 5th and 6th, 
so that 26 were now available. This entire group was dispatched at 1145 
to attack the enemy ships at the southern contact. Despite the excellent 
visibility, none of these planes found the enemy force. At 1640, a flight 
of 6 B-i7's flying at more than 10,000 feet sighted a vessel about 25 miles 
east of the expected target. Identification of the type was difficult from 
that height. The first element of 3 planes dropped 4 bombs each, which 
seemed to hit the target, for it disappeared in 15 seconds. 

M On the pilot's return he dropped a message on the Enterprise seemingly correcting the report 
to "one BB and five DD's," although Captain Mitschei of the Hornet writes that the returning 
pilot "reported correctly i BB, iCA, 3 DD by message drop and verbally." This is probably 
correct, as the plane landed on the Hornet. Admiral Spruance says that this force was subsc- 
quendy found to consist of two heavy cruisers (Mogami class), one light cruiser or destroyer, and 
two destroyers, but this is based on a reconstruction of the action which may be in error. Although 
minor discrepancies in reports are common, those of our pilots on the 6th contain more contradic- 
tions than usual, as will be seen. At 0843 the Commander of Cruisers remarks: "Composition of 
enemy force is still not clear.'* 

w When radio silence must be preserved the practice is for planes to return and drop a message 
to report contacts within 100 miles. A contact at a greater distance is reported when the 
plane returns from its search. In this case radio silence had already been broken in reporting the 
first contact. 

n At 0720, before the second contact report had been received. Admiral Kinkaid ordered the 
Minneapolis and New Orleans to launch two SOC's each to locate and track the enemy force and 
advised that our Task Force would close the enemy reported at lat. 29°33' N., long. i74°3o' E. 
The Minneapolis and New Orleans each launched two SOC's at 0746. 

"At 1030 Midway received from CINCPAC information fixing position of enemy: One battle- 
ship and five destroyers bearing 278 °, distance 510, course 270 , speed 10; two heavy cruisers, 
two destroyers bearing 263 °, distance 460, course 21 5 °, speed 15. 



Original from 

There was no attack signal and the second element did not attack 
except that the leader's two wingmen by mistake dropped bombs which 
fell wide of the now submerged target. Some pilots thought they had 
sunk a cruiser in 15 seconds. 39 Actually the "ship" was the submarine 
Grayling, which crash dived when the first bombs fell near her bow. 
Fortunately, she was not damaged. This was the only attack of the day 
by Midway planes. 

Meanwhile, our Task Force had had considerably greater success. 40 
At 0757, soon after receipt of the second contact report, the Hornet began 
launching an attack group of 26 scout bombers. Eight fighters were sent 
too as a precaution against possible air opposition. This group found the 
enemy force without difficulty. To pilots it appeared to consist of a 
battleship, 41 a heavy cruiser and three destroyers. Our planes attacked 
at 0950. The results were : 

Two 1,000 pound hits. 

One 500 pound hit on "battleship." 

Two 1,000 pound misses within 50 feet 

Two 1,000 pound hits on heavy cruiser. 

One 500 pound hit on stern of a destroyer, which sank. 

Since there was no air opposition our fighters occupied themselves by 
strafing the destroyers, probably causing very heavy casualties. One 
bombing plane was shot down by antiaircraft fire during the attack, but 
the rest returned safely to the carrier by 1045. At once they were re- 
fueled and rearmed in preparation for a second attack. 

This Hornet attack was followed by one from the Enterprise. Between 
1045 and 1 1 15 this carrier put into the air 31 scout bombers with one 

* Others suspected the truth in regard to the type of vessel and its disappearance. 

40 The map, p. 43, illustrating the action on the 6th is based on the Hornet and Enterprise plots, 
except that Hornet's plot is moved about 35' to the east to accord with the statement that the 
enemy was only about 110 miles distant at the time of the last attack, and with evidence that the 
two enemy groups were in proximity about noon. It is not in agreement with the composite 
chart of the battle which appears at the end of this narrative. The composite arbitrarily transposes 
positions to accord with the hypothesis that the Enterprise and Hornet attacked a single enemy force. 

** Pilots returned convinced that their "principal target'* was a battleship, probably of the 
Kirishima class, and not a heavy cruiser, but a subsequent Hornet dispatch speaks of it as "a BB 
or possibly a CA." This dispatch also says that one of the ships attacked (apparently this BB or 
CA) was left turning in uncontrolled circles to the right. At 1305 an SOC from the New Orleans 
reported a battleship burning, position lat. 29°3i' N., long. i72°43' E. 


Original from 

,00 S' e UN 

1,000-pound bomb each, and 12 fighters for strafing. 42 Soon after these 
planes were in the air they were instructed by radio to search for a 
battleship believed to be about 40 miles ahead of the group. They were 
told further that three torpedo planes were being sent to join them. The 
force maneuvered to await the torpedo planes, but contact with them 
was never made, and the torpedo planes did not take part in the attack. 48 
At 1200 the attack group passed at high altitude a force consisting of 
two heavy cruisers and two destroyers. 44 Some planes attacked almost at 

**The objective was given as two BB, two CA and several DD at lat. 29°33' N., long. i75°35' E., 
course 270 , speed 15. Why it was thought at this time that the enemy force was so composed does 
not appear in the reports. The position appears to be an error for 173 °35' E M toward which our 
planes actually headed. 

43 These torpedo planes were ordered to attack only after the bombing attack. After failing to 
make contact with our bombing planes, they found an enemy ship independently and circled an 
hour awaiting our bombers which did not appear. Finally lack of fuel forced them to return 
to the Enterprise. This clearly indicates the presence of two enemy groups. 

44 This is according to the report of Captain Murray. A separate report of Scouting SIX and 
Bombing SIX says they found one CA, one CL and two DD's. It will be remembered that the 
Hornet group had sunk one destroyer, reducing the enemy force to four ships. However, it will 
also be noticed that Captain Murray's description corresponds exacdy to that of the group originally 
sighted to the south. This may be significant in view of the following considerations: 

(1) This original "southern group" was not found in the expected position by Midway planes. 
Assuming that it had changed its course to the northwest sometime after being sighted, it might 
well have been in the position of the force found by the Enterprise attack group. 

(2) The Hornet and Enterprise plots of this action do not agree. 

(3) At 1 100 a Minneapolis SOC reported: "Carrier sunk. Two CA's, two DD's on course 275 , 
speed 22 knots.'* The report of the carrier may be explained by the fact that at the time the 
SOC was launched the enemy group was thought to include a carrier. When none was found, 
the pilots may have assumed that it had been sunk. 

Subscquendy the Minneapolis reported that its two planes had found the enemy at 0915 at 
lat. 29°3o' N., long. i73°25' E. Both pilots were quite certain that the four ships were a 
Mogami class cruiser, a Nachi class cruiser, and two DD's. The only damage apparent was 
a slight oil leak from one CA and one DD. The pilots approached within 5 miles to make 
their identification and then circled the enemy group at 25 miles to make certain that there were 
only four ships. At 1145 all cruiser planes were ordered to return to their ships, but it is not 
clear whether the Minneapolis planes left the enemy force at once, for the report says that at 1215 
the force was on a course of 225°. The planes returned to the cruiser at 1320, so that they may 
have remained tracking the enemy force till 121 5. The report also remarks that the planes arrived 
after the first attack and left before the second. 

It is difficult to say which enemy group the pilots were tracking. It is said that they arrived 
after the {Hornet's) first attack, which had sunk a destroyer, leaving two larger vessels and two 
destroyers; but if it was the group left by the Hornet, more damage ought to have been 
visible. Moreover, the SOC's found the enemy force at 0915, and the Hornet attack did not take 
place till 0950. The position given by the Minneapolis pilots is about 50 miles east of the point 
where the Hornet plot places its first attack, and, as may be seen from the accompanying chart, 
makes it appear more probable that this group was the one attacked by the Enterprise at noon. 
The Commander of Cruisers, referring to the Minneapolis report, remarks: "This group was attacked 
by the Enterprise Group." But if the Minneapolis pilots remained on the scene after the order to 
return at 1145 they ought to have seen the beginning of the Enterprise attack. 


Original from 

once, but most of the group continued about 30 miles farther in search 
of the battleship reported to be ahead of the group. In spite of the 
excellent visibility no ship was sighted, and our planes returned to attack 
the main group. 45 

The planes which had first begun the attack had taken as their target 
the heavy cruiser to the east, probably the Mi/^uma. 46 During this attack 
the vessels turned to starboard and so were heading north as our other 
planes approached. These planes came out of the sun from 21,000 feet 
and dove steeply on the target. Most took the heavy cruiser, but a few 
chose the "light" cruiser. Antiaircraft fire was heavy, but diminished 
after the first bomb hit. Altogether, five direct hits were made on the 
heavy cruiser, with two near hits. Admiral Nimitz writes as follows: 
"From the stories of survivors of Mi\uma it appears that the first planes 
at 1 140 hit and disabled the Mifama and the last ones about 1300 finished 
her off when a bomb amidships detonated her torpedoes. The Enterprise 
group reported one CA as 'dead in the water, burning furiously with 
heavy explosions,' shattered and abandoned. If they had waited a few 
minutes their account would have been different. She keeled over and 
sank very soon after the last hit." 47 During the bombing attack our 

* At 1 105 a PBY from Midway reported that it was investigating suspicious vessels bearing 280 °, 
distance 500. At 1145 the same plane reported four unidentified ships being attacked by aircraft, 
bearing 277 , distance 525, course 200 °, speed 30. At 1330 the same PBY reported that the 
force which it had previously described as an enemy battleship and cruiser was now opposed by 
friendly cruisers and destroyers, bearing 277 °, distance 550. Apparently our plane had sighted 
both enemy groups and mistook one of them for friendly. 

*To the fighter pilots, who came very low, the two larger vessels appeared to be battleships, a 
natural mistake for Mogami class cruisers. 

m The story of the survivors of the Miktima reads as follows: The first attack on the ship was 
on June 4th. "The following day the ship received no attacks, but on the 6th about noontime, 
she was again attacked by two-engine bombers [two-engine is obviously a mistake] and received 
hits on the fo'cas'le, bridge area and amidships. The hit on the fo'cas'le put the forward guns 
out of commission. The hit near the bridge area set off some ready service antiaircraft shells, 
causing considerable damage to bridge structure and personnel. Several torpedoes were exploded 
amidships by the hit in that vicinity. The ship caught fire and two destroyers tried to come 
alongside to rescue personnel, but were driven away and forced to abandon the attempt to rescue 
survivors when attacked by an additional flight of American aircraft. One of these destroyers 
received a hit on the stern and broke out into flames aft . . . [The prisoner] did not know it 
this destroyer sank. The Miktima capsized and sank within an hour and a half after initial bomb- 
ing this date . . ." 

It will be noticed that, except for the story of the hit on the destroyer's stern, everything in this 
account indicates that the Mi\uma was not bombed by both the Hornet and the Enterprise groups; 
i. e., the Hornet and the Enterprise did not attack the same enemy force. The initial bombing 
of the Mikttma was "about noon," i. c., the very time that the Enterprise planes that first aban- 
doned the search for the battleship to the west began their attack. The "additional flight" of planes 



Original from 

fighters strafed the destroyers, firing about 4,000 rounds of .50-caliber 
ammunition into each. Large pieces of metal flew off, and there were 
explosions and fires on both. 

The "light cruiser" (seemingly the Mogami) which had been behind 
the Mi\uma also received several hits. When last seen she was smoking 
heavily but was moving westward at about 10 knots, leaving an oil slick 
behind her. She was accompanied by the two destroyers. 48 

After the Enterprise group returned, the Hornet launched its second 
attack group of the day — and the last of the battle, as it turned out. 
This group of 24 scout bombers armed with 1,000-pound bombs took off 
at 1330 to attack the enemy force now no miles away on bearing 264 
from the Hornet. At 1645 this group found and attacked an enemy 
force which pilots described as consisting of four ships, a heavy cruiser, 
probably of the Ktnugasa class, a second cruiser about which there was 
uncertainty as to whether it was heavy or light, and two destroyers. 49 

which drove away the rescuing destroyers are obviously those Enterprise planes which pushed their 
search farther before returning to attack. 

Lt Clarence E. Dickinson, Jr., of the Enterprise Scouting SIX describes this action on the 
6th as follows: "The next day, the 6th, the Hornet's group was launched [and] attacked a 
big cruiser of the Mogami type, which, from the pictures and measurements we feel is probably 
at least double its listed 8,500 tons. . . . Several hits were obtained. Then the Enterprise group 
was launched and found another group, which consisted apparently of another Mogami type cruiser, 
the Mikjuma, and one other li^ht cruiser and five destroyers." It is interesting that he assumed 
that our two carriers were attacking different groups, although his account of the composition of 
the group attacked by the Enterprise is probably mistaken. 

Enterprise pilots upon their return generally believed that they had not attacked the same group 
attacked by the Hornet. The ships attacked by the Hornet had been reported moving slowly, 
while those attacked by the Enterprise were steaming at high speedy Furthermore, the Hornet had 
reported several hits, but the group attacked by the Enterprise did not appear to have sustained 
any important damage. 

48 Of this CINCPAC says, "The other CA, apparently the Mogami, was also hit but proceeded west- 
ward making an oil slick and smoking heavily. Two destroyers accompanied her." A survivor of 
the Mikuma also confirms the fact that at the time the Mikuma sank the Mogami was on fire. 
This is evidence, too, that both ships were in the same group. 

At 1325 the New Orleans recovered two SOC's. The pilots "reported seeing a CV and one 
DD sink, several DD's hit. CA still afloat. Reported position about 40 miles south of previously 
reported position of enemy. *' The report appears unreliable, and it is difficult to know what they 
did sec. Judging by the time they were recovered by the cruiser, they must have left the scene 
of action too early to have seen the results of the Enterprise attack. Moreover, the Enterprise 
group did not sink a destroyer and hit several, as there were only two destroyers in the group 
attacked by the Enterprise. Possibly they saw the results of the Hornet's morning attack which 
idid sink a destroyer. But no carrier was bombed or sunk at all, and the Hornet seemingly did not 
sink any large ship which could have been mistaken for a carrier. 

49 This could scarcely have been the same group that the Enterprise had attacked 3 or 4 hours 
earlier, for of that group the Mikuma had been sunk, leaving only a damaged cruiser (presumably 
the Mogami) and two destroyers. It, fits perfectly, however, with the description of the group the 



Original from 

The results of the attack were reported to be: 

One 1,000-pound hit on the heavy cruiser. 
Six r, ooo-pound hits on the second cruiser. 
One 1,000-pound hit on a destroyer. 

The direct hit on the heavy cruiser caused very heavy explosions and 
it was left "completely gutted by fire, personnel abandoning ship." 50 
The planes returned to the Hornet without loss at 1528, 

Shortly afterwards the Enterprise launched two scout bombers at 1553 
to photograph the damaged ship. These planes returned in a little over 
3 hours with the excellent photograph reproduced with this narrative. 
It has hitherto been assumed that this was the Mogami, but if the view 
advanced in the footnotes is correct it could not be. 51 

Hornet had previously attacked. That consisted of a BB, a CA, and three DD's, of which one 
DD was sunk, leaving two larger ships of slightly different size and two destroyers. This is still 
further evidence that the Enterprise and Hornet were not attacking the same enemy group on the 
6th and may explain the disagreement in their plots of the action. 

There is a further argument supporting this view. On the evidence of a survivor of the Mikuma, 
both the Mikuma and the Mogami were in the same group. They were sister ships, presumably of 
the same size and general appearance. Now, while the attack pilots speak of a heavy cruiser and a 
light, only the Enterprise attacked an enemy group which by any report contained two large ships 
of the same type. It will be remembered that Enterprise fighter pilots thought that the two large 
ships looked like battleships, as Mogami class cruisers might very well. On the other hand, the 
Hornet pilots on their first attack thought they found a BB, a CA, and three DD; i. e., the two 
heavy ships were not of the same class cither in the group attacked in the morning or afternoon. 

A dispatch by the Commander of Task Force SUGAR at about 1330 remarks on the uncer- 
tainty concerning the position of the target and says that a second position has been reported some 
40 miles southeast of the first. He suggests there may be two groups of targets. Apparently he 
is referring to the report of the New Orleans' scout, made five minutes before. 

80 Of this CINCPAC writes that the Hornet group attacked "leaving the Mogami gutted and 
abandoned, and reporting hits on another CA or CL and one hit on a destroyer. A photographic 
plane, which obtained the pictures accompanying enclosure, while over the Mogami hulk about 
1730 saw a CL and a destroyer fleeing to the westward." 

In these footnotes it has been suggested that the Hornet and Enterprise were not attacking the 
same group of enemy ships. It appears that both the Mikjuma and Mogami were in the group 
attacked by the Enterprise at noon and that it was the Mogami which fled burning and streaming 
oil accompanied by two destroyers. If this analysis is correct, the heavy cruiser left gutted and 
abandoned by the Hornet's second attack was not the Mogami, though it may have been of the Mogami 

This would mean, too, that more enemy ships were damaged than was previously supposed. So 
long as it was believed that both Hornet and Enterprise were attacking the same group, it was 
assumed that one attack merely added to the damage already inflicted by the other, and it had to 
be assumed that the other enemy group escaped without damage when the Midway planes failed 
to find it. The view here advanced means that both groups came under attack and received 
serious damage. 

"It seems probable that the ship photographed by the Enterprise planes was the cruiser left 
"gutted and abandoned*' by the Hornet's last attack; in fact, that was the only ship left in such a 



Original from 

Admiral Spruance writes of this as follows. "All through the day there 
had been no question in our minds that a BB was involved. That eve- 
ning when questioning the pilots of the two photographic planes, I found 
one of them quite certain that a CA of the Mogami class, and not a BB, 
was involved. The photographs bore him out. The ship is the same as 
the one appearing in the 1940 Jane. 52 Everyone who saw this ship says 
she appeared to be much larger than a CA. From this fact and from her 
toughness 58 1 suspect that her displacement may be considerably in excess 
of 10,000 tons. 54 She was reported as definitely larger than the other 
cruiser accompanying her, which may have been a CL or DL .... I be- 
lieve the larger ship sank during the night." B5 

The continued high-speed steaming had reduced fuel in the destroyers 
to a very low level. The Maury and Worden had to be detached for a 
rendezvous with the Cimarron to refuel. This left only four destroyers 
to accompany two carriers. With Japanese submarines reported in the 
area it seemed unwise to go farther with such slight protection. 
A further consideration was that it would be dangerous to come within 
range of planes based at Wake, where the Japanese were known to have 
concentrated a large air force which they had expected to transfer to 

condition. The fact that the pilots of the photographic planes saw a CL and a destroyer fleeing 
westward confirms this, for there had been a smaller cruiser with the one left dead by the Hornet. 

But as we have seen, this ship could not have been the Mogami, for the Mogami had not been in 
this group, but in the group attacked by the Enterprise at noon. Far from being left "gutted and 
abandoned" she had last been seen shortly after noon, damaged and burning, it is true, but proceeding 
westward under her own power at 10 knots. She was not, therefore, sunk as reported, but almost 
certainly returned damaged to Japan. It seems probable, however, that we did sink the ship 
photographed, which may have been of the same class. 

The identification of the hulk photographed as the Mogami rested upon the assumption that the 
Enterprise and Hornet were attacking the same group. The Mikuma was known to have been 
sunk; therefore, the remaining large ship must (it seemed) necessarily be the Mogami. This 
seemed to be confirmed by the Mikuma survivor who said that the photograph could not be the 
Mikuma, which was damaged chiefly in the forward section. This identification collapses, how- 
ever, if we assume that we have to deal not with one but with two groups of enemy ships. 

M It will be remembered that all four cruisers of the Mogami class, the Mikuma, Mogami, Suzuya, 
and Kumano, were in the Japanese supporting force. The fact that this ship was not the Mogami 
does not preclude its being another of the same class. It means merely that we sank not the 
Mikuma and Mogami, but the Mikuma and another of the same class. 

53 Her toughness may have been less than the Admiral supposed, since the ship did not take a 
pounding from both the Enterprise and Hornet, as he imagined, but only from the Hornet's two 

u Captain Murray of the Enterprise goes further: "A close scrutiny of the excellent photographs, 
the observations of an experienced photographer, and a direct comparison with our 8-inch cruisers, 
leads to the firm belief that this Mogami class heavy cruiser is in reality a battle cruiser of at least 
20,000 tons." It is easy to see why these cruisers were mistaken for battleships by our aviators. 

" There is no definite evidence of her sinking. 



Original from 

Midway. Consequently, the task force turned about and began to retire 
to the northeast. 

The following day a message from Admiral Spruance summarized the 
action and added: "Our carrier air groups have done a magnificent job 
in spite of the heavy losses suffered on Thursday forenoon in the initial 
attack, which decided the fate of the Battle of Midway. Their follow-up 
blows on our retreating enemy were carried out with great determination. 
The Japs' state of morale at the end of the battle was indicated by 
abandoning to their fate the crew of the Mogami class cruiser when the 
other ships of that group left without effecting rescue of personnel. The 
performance of our ships during this period leaves nothing to be desired. 
Task Forces SUGAR and FOX have again helped to make history. 
Well done to all hands." 

0415 Hammann puts salvage party aboard. 

0600 Hammann ties up alongside Yor\town. 

1335 Torpedo wakes sighted. 

1339 Hammann sinks. 

1845 Submarine sighted on horizon. 

June 7th: 0501 Yor\town sinks. 

The Yor\town had been abandoned on the afternoon of June 4th. 
That night the Pensacola and Vincennes departed to rejoin Task Force 
SUGAR, while Task Force FOX moved off to the eastward, except for 
the Hughes, which was detached to stand guard over the Yorfyotvn. 
The intention was to transfer survivors from the destroyers to the Port- 
land, which would then proceed to Pearl Harbor, while the Astoria and 
destroyers would return next morning to salvage the Yorfyown. These 
plans were modified by a message from Admiral Nimitz that the Fulton 
had been dispatched to receive survivors. Captain Buckmaster with 180 
key officers and men therefore returned with the Hammann, Balch, and 
Benham to the Yor\town, while the rest of the task force moved on to 
refuel and subsequently to join the Saratoga. 

Meanwhile, back at the Yorfyown on the morning of the 5th the 
Hughes rescued two wounded men who had been overlooked when the 


June 5th: 
June 6th: 



Vireo takes Yor\town in tow. 
Hammann, Balch, and Benham join. 


Original from 

darkened ship was abandoned, and also picked up a Yorhtown fighter 
pilot who appeared in his rubber boat. 

At 1 135 the mine sweeper Vireo arrived. She had been standing by 
near Pearl Hermes reef awaiting orders when directed by CINCPAC 
on the afternoon of the 4th to proceed at once to the damaged Yortyown.** 
By 1308 she had the carrier in tow and headed for Pearl Harbor at about 
3 knots. The load proved too heavy, however. She was unable to main- 
tain this speed and by the next day was barely able to keep the Yorktown 
on her course. During the afternoon of the 5th the group was joined by 
the Gwin 57 and the Monaghan. The former had been en route to join 
Task Force SUGAR when her orders were modified and she was directed 
to proceed at 25 knots to join the Yor\tou/n. The Monaghan had been 
detached from Task Force SUGAR. The Gwin put a salvage party aboard, 
but it could accomplish little before dusk, when it had to be removed. 

At about 0200 on the 6th the Hammann, Balch, and Benham joined the 
screen circling the Yor\town* About 0415, as soon as there was sufficient 
light, the Hammann went alongside and transferred to the carrier a sal- 
vage party consisting of Captain Buckmaster, 29 officers and 130 men. 

Captain Buckmaster had worked out a careful salvage plan. Fires were 
to be brought under control. The list was to be reduced by pumping and 
counterflooding and by cutting away all removable weights from the port 
side including 5-inch guns and aircraft. The remaining guns were to be 
made fit for action. The rudder was to be brought amidships to facilitate 

At 0600 the Hammann was directed to lie off the Yor\towris starboard 
bow to supply foamite and water to fight the fire and power for operating 
submersible pumps. It was found impossible for the Hammann to lie 
clear and keep her position accurately, so that she was secured alongside 
forward on the Yorktowris starboard side. 

By afternoon considerable progress had been made. The fire in the 
rag storeroom had been put out. The water level in the engine room had 
been reduced somewhat, and in the third deck aft it had been lowered 3 
feet. Two starboard fuel tanks had been flooded. One 5-inch gun had 
been cut loose on the port side and a second was almost ready for drop- 
ping. As a result, the list had been reduced some 2°. 

"The Navajo and Seminole were also dispatched to join the Yor\town but did not arrive be- 
fore she sank. 

w Under the command of Commander John M. Higgins. 


rw"*nl*> Original from 


At 1335 four torpedo wakes were sighted to starboard of the Yorfyown. 
Two destroyers in the screen gave the emergency signal, while the Yor^ 
town fired a gun and passed the word "Torpedo Attack!" In the minute 
which elapsed between the first sighting of the torpedoes and the explo- 
sion, the Hammann called to general quarters, Gunnery Officer Lt. (j. g.) 
Charles C. Hartigan ordered the forward machine gunner to open fire on 
the torpedoes in the hope of detonating them before they arrived, the 
rear machine gunner also took up the fire, and Captain True signalled 
full speed astern on the inboard engine in the hope of pulling clear. 

The engines were just responding when the torpedoes struck. "The 
first torpedo appeared to pass under the Hammann in the vicinity of 
No. 2 gun and exploded against the side of the Yor\town. The second 
torpedo struck the Hammann in No. 2 fireroom. This torpedo appar- 
endy broke the ship's back, as a pronounced sag was noted in this vicinity. 
Large quantities of oil, water and debris were blown high into the air, 
coming down on both the Hammann and Yorktown" Many, includ- 
ing Captain True, were temporarily stunned either by the force of the 
explosion or by being thrown violently against some object. The Ham- 
mann began to setde rapidly by the head, and the order to abandon ship 
was given at once. 

Two torpedoes hit the Yor^town at the turn of her bilge below the 
island structure, while the fourth passed astern. The shock of the ex- 
plosion was only slightly less severe than on the Hammann. The tripod 
foremast whipped sharply, shearing the rivets in the starboard leg which 
flew off like bullets. Overhead fixtures in the hangar crashed to the 
deck. Landing gear of planes collapsed as the decks heaved upward. 
Men were thrown against bulkheads or into the water. The hole torn 
in the Yortyowris side apparently flooded the starboard firerooms, for 
the list was reduced to 17 and she settled a little. 

The Hammann disappeared within 3 or 4 minutes of the first ex- 
plosion, but in this time most of the crew managed to get clear. About 
a minute after the water closed over her stern there was a tremendous 
underwater explosion which killed many men and seriously injured more. 
The cause is unknown. Apparently it was caused either by one of the 
Hammann s torpedoes (one or two survivors saw one running hot in its 
tube as the ship sank) or by her depth charges. These had all been set 
on safe when the Hammann first went alongside the Yortyown, and had 

"Captain Truc's description. 



Original from 

again been checked only about half an hour before the attack. More- 
over, B. M. Kimbrel, torpedoman first class, rechecked the depth charges 
after the torpedo struck, and remained to help stunned shipmates into life 
jackets and into the water. He probably died in the explosion he had 
tried to prevent. 

Some destroyers rescued survivors from the Hammann and Yorktown, 
while others hunted the enemy submarine. The hunt lasted all after- 
noon with many contacts and depth charge attacks, one of which brought 
up heavy oil. At about 1845 a submarine surfaced on the horizon. The 
smoke from its Diesels was seen and the Monaghan and Hughes headed 
for it at full speed. A little later 5-inch gunfire was heard. The search 
continued several hours with no result except the discovery of an oil 
slick. It is believed that the submarine escaped with damage. 

The Yor\town did not sink at once. Because the destroyers were 
occupied, it was decided not to attempt further salvage till next day. 
Before the Vireo took off those that remained of the salvage party, all 
watertight closures possible were secured, but many quick-acting doors 
had been sprung and warped by the explosions and many bulkheads 
weakened. Probably the pounding of the water broke through the 
center-line bulkhead, flooding the remaining third and fourth deck spaces 
amidship on the port side. 

At 0330 on June 7th it was noticed that the list was increasing. At 
0501 "she turned over on her port side and sank in about 3,000 fathoms 
of water with all her batde flags flying." 59 

Summary of enemy losses in the Battle of Midway.* 

A. Four carriers sunk: A\agi 9 Kaga, Soryu, Hiryu, with the loss of all 
their planes and many of their personnel. Estimated 275 planes, 2400 

B. Two and probably three battleships damaged, one severely. 

C. Two Mogami class heavy cruisers sunk, 61 three or more heavy cruisers 
damaged, some severely. 

D. One light cruiser damaged. 

E. Three destroyers sunk, a fourth possibly sunk. 

F. Four transport and cargo vessels hit, one or more possibly sunk. 

G. Estimated total number of personnel lost: 4,800. 

m Captain Buckmaster's description. Her position was lat. 30°46' N., long. i67°24' W. 
Taken from the report of Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief of United States 
Pacific Fleet. 

" There is some uncertainty as to whether the second actually sank. 



Original from 

Summary of our losses. 

Ships: Yor\town and Hammann sunk. 

Planes: About 150 lost in action or damaged beyond repair. 

Personnel: 92 officers and 215 men. 

Both Admiral Spruance and Admiral Fletcher have pointed out that 
"in a duel between CV's the side which is able to strike the first blow 
against enemy CV's whose planes are on board wins!' At Midway we 
won in precisely this manner. We were able to do this because we knew 
of the enemy's presence, the approximate composition of his force, and 
because we had calculated correctly his method of approach. The 
Battle of Midway was essentially a victory of intelligence. 

The Japanese, on the other hand, probably did not know of the 
presence of our forces until shortly before our carrier planes attacked 
them. In attempting a surprise attack they were themselves surprised. 
The placing of our fleet to fall upon the enemy's flank was a piece of 
brilliant tactics, skilfully executed. Our single misfortune was the failure 
to locate and attack the fourth enemy carrier with sufficient promptness, 
when its presence was suspected. That failure cost us the Yor\town. 

Midway was a contest of air power. There was no contacts of surface 
vessels in the entire action. Both Admiral Fletcher and Admiral 
Spruance were fully aware of the value of surface attacks had circum- 
stances permitted. The reader of this narrative will understand why 
such attacks were not considered practicable. 

Our pursuit of the enemy's fleeing forces, successful as it was, un- 
doubtedly fell short of what might have been achieved had more com- 
plete information been promptly available to our task forces. As Ad- 
miral Nimitz says, "Early, accurate and continuous information of the 
enemy is essential for successful attack by carrier groups." Admiral 
Fletcher says, "Every effort should be made to locate and maintain con- 
tact with an enemy force by other than carrier aircraft." Admiral 
Spruance concurs: "Early and accurate information of movements of an 
enemy force to be attacked is essential for successful carrier operations." 

"These observations arc based largely upon those submitted by officers who took part in the 
engagement, particularly Admiral Fletcher and Admiral Spruance, and the conclusions drawn by 
Admiral Nimitz. 




Original from 

Our scouts did their duty often at considerable danger to themselves. 
Several reports were cut short by attacks from enemy planes. Communi- 
cations were on the whole efficient. All Midway planes and submarines 
were on a common frequency which our surface vessels could intercept, 
thus avoiding relays of information. Yet in spite of these precautions 
there were periods in which our forces were without vital information. 
As Lt. Comdr. John G. Foster, Jr., Air Operations Officer of the Hornet, 
points out, "The lack of information on the enemy's surface forces be- 
tween 0623 and 1000 [on June 4th] was serious and jeopardized the 
tactical advantage we enjoyed over the enemy. The delay of the Enter- 
prise's air group attack against the enemy carriers and the failure of the 
Hornet's VSB planes to make contact with the enemy can be attributed to 
this lack of information. Further, the loss of planes from the Hornet 
and Enterprise by water landings from lack of fuel can be partly attached 
to this unfortunate lack of information on the enemy's movements." 
Lt. Comdr. Foster further points out delays of over 2 hours in forwarding 
reports of certain important contacts, and remarks that delay in the run- 
ning of code schedules represents "entirely too great a time lag and indi- 
dicates that only direct communication is sufficient. This is especially so 
where aircraft are involved/' 

One source of difficulty was the unsuitability of the PBY for tracking 
an enemy force because of its inability to face fighter opposition. Army 
B-17's seem well adapted for this purpose. Too many of our attacking 
forces failed to find targets. Had our scouts been able to track, they 
could have guided these groups to their objectives. 

Our fighters proved inferior both in number and in performance to 
the Japanese Zeros. It has been suggested that the Marine air group 
operating from Midway should be equipped with Army-type fighters 
rather than carrier planes. Although the number of fighters on our car- 
riers had been increased before Midway, they were still too few for their 
duties of combat patrol and escorting attack groups. Many officers be- 
lieve the proportion of fighters should be increased, or even that some 
carriers should be equipped with, fighters exclusively. It was observed 
that the greatest danger to attacking planes was not enemy antiaircraft 
fire, which was comparatively ineffective, but enemy fighter planes. This 
points the need for greater fighter protection for our attacking groups. 
This may also require greater range on the part of our fighters. Such 
protection might have reduced the very heavy losses among our TBD's. 



Original from 

It has been pointed out that they should be replaced by TBF's as soon 

It is agreed that too many hits were required to sink enemy ships. 
Our fliers needed more effective bombs and torpedoes with heavier war 
heads. They had no armor-piercing bombs for attacks on armored ships. 
Fuses were too short, so that our hits frequently caused extensive super- 
ficial damage without sinking the targets. 

Horizontal bombing did not prove very effective against ships. It is 
recognized that an "alert skipper" can maneuver from under bombs 
dropped from a high altitude, and the result, as someone has aptly said, 
is a series of "near misses." Dive bombers obtain a very much higher 
percentage of hits, but destroyers are not profitable targets even for them. 
However, the strafing of destroyers by our fighters proved damaging. 

The operation of two or more carriers together proved of advantage in 
many ways and saved several planes which might otherwise have been 

The scope of this narrative has not permitted the mention of all offi- 
cers who held important commands during the battle. Maj. Gen. 
Clarence L. Tinker, U. S. A., Commander of the Army Air Force in 
Hawaii, was at the scene of action and was lost on June 9th when the 
long-range bomber in which he was searching for the enemy was forced 
down at sea. Lt. Gen. Delos C. Emmons, U. S. A., was Commanding 
General, Hawaiian Department. Maj. Gen. Willis H. Hale, U. S. A., 
was head of the Bombing Command of the Army Air Force in Hawaii. 
Brig. Gen. Henry K. Pickett, U. S. M. C, was Commander of the United 
States Marine Corps forces in the Hawaiian area. 

Neither has it been possible to name many of the officers and men who 
distinguished themselves by their heroism during the battle. The list 
is a long one. In a sense they were outstanding examples of a spirit mani- 
fested by all our men present. 

It would be difficult to express this better than has Admiral Nimitz: 
"The performance of officers and men was of the highest order, not only 
at Midway and afloat, but equally so among those at Oahu not privileged 
to be in the front line of batde. I am proud to report that the cooperative 
devotion to duty of all those involved was so marked that, despite the 
necessarily decisive part played by our three carriers, this defeat of the 
Japanese arms and ambitions was truly a victory of the United States' 
armed forces and not of the Navy alone." 

as possible. 



510390 — 43- 

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Bomber . 


do - 







Transport . . 




Utility. . 


Utility, multi-engine . , 

Utility, multi-engine . 

Trainer, primary 

Trainer, advanced. . . . 

Trainer, primary 


do ... 



Observation scout 


Patrol bomber, 2 -engine, 

Patrol bomber, 2 -engine, 

land plane. 
Patrol bomber, 2-engine, 



Patrol bomber, 2-engine, 

land plane. 
Patrol bomber, 2-engine, 



Patrol bomber, 4-engine, 


Patrol bomber, 4-engine, 

Patrol bomber, 2-engine, 

land plane. 


Douglas . 







Eastern Aircraft . . . 
Chance- Vought .... 









Vought-Sikorsky . . 
Vought-Sikorsky . . 





Stearman (Boeing) , 

Timra . . . . 

Naval Aircraft Fac- 


Vought-Sikorsky . . 

North American . , 

Naval Aircraft Fac- 


Consolidated . 
Martin . 

Consolidated . 



U. S. name 


Buffalo. . 
Corsair. , 
Wildcat . 

Corsair . . 
Corsair , , 
Traveler . 



Wedgeon . . 
Voyager . . . 

Excalibur . . 

Caydet . 
Tutor . . 


do . . . 

Sea Ranger 

Mitchell. . 

Mariner . . , 

Catalina. . 

Hudson . . . 

Catalina. , 

Mars . 

Coronado . 
Liberator. . 

Ventura . . 

British name 



Martlet V. 


Goose L 



Hudson III. 






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R4D-3 . 
R$D. . . 
RB-1 .. 

SBC. . 
SBD. . 
SBF . . 
SBN. . 

SBW . 

SNB-1 , 
SNB-2 . 
SNJ ... 
SNV. . 


TBD. . 
TBF. . . 
TBM. . 
TBV. . 


Transport, multi-engine 



Transport (cargo), multi- 

Scout bomber 




Trainer, advanced. 





Scout observation . 


Torpedo bomber . . 





Curtiss . . . 
Douglas . . 

do. . . 




Lockheed . 
Budd .... 







Naval Aircraft Fac- 

Vought-Sikorsky . . 
Canadian Car and 




North American . . . 






Eastern Aircraft . . . 

U. S. name 

Sky train . . . 

Sky trooper 

Lodestar . . 

Buccaneer . 
Helldiver . 

do . . . 

Dauntless . 

Helldiver . 

Vindicator . 
Helldiver . . 

Navigator. . 




Seagull . . . . 

do.. .. 

Devastator . 
Avenger . . . 
do . . 

British name 




Harvard, I, II. 



2- & 

2 ^ 


Crane ship. 


Troop transport (high speed). 


Auxiliary aircraft carrier. 


Transport for wounded. 


Destroyer tender. 


Rescue transport. 


Ammunition ship. 


Auxiliary cargo submarine. 


Store ship. 


Aircraft transport. 


Miscellaneous auxiliary. 


Repair ship. 


General communications vessel. 


Floating drydock. 


Surveying ship. 


Heavy hull repair ship. 


Hospital ship. 


Salvage vessel. 


Cargo ship. 


Submarine tender. 


Refrigerated cargo ship. 


Submarine rescue vessel. 


General stores issue ship. 


Ocean-going tug. 


Large mine sweeper. 


Salvage tug. 


Base mine sweeper. 


Seaplane tender (large). 


Coastal mine sweeper. 


Net layer. 


Catapult lighter. 




Seaplane tender (converted DD). 


Gasoline tanker. 


Seaplane tender (small). 




Coastal transport. 









Original from 



Heavy cruiser. 


Large cruiser. 


Light cruiser. 


Mine layer. 


vxjd5iai iiiinc layci • 

V* v 

Aircraft carrier. 




Destroyer escort vessel. 


Light mine layer (high speed). 


Mine sweeper (high speed). 




Landing craft, infantry (large). 


50-foot landing craft, mechanized, 

Mk. II. 

LCM( 3 ) 

50-foot landing craft, mechanized, 

Mk. m. 


36-foot landing craft, personnel 



36-foot landing craft, personnel 

(with ramp). 


Landing craft, rubber (large). 


Landing craft, rubber (small). 


Landing craft, support (small). 


Landing craft, tank, Mk. V. 


Landing craft, vehicle. 


Landing craft, vehicle and personnel. 


Landing ship, dock. 


Landing ship, tank. 


Lanninc v^hirlf* tmcXcpA ( i\t\*Tmr\r*A\ 

M^AllyJlllg VCIilV-lC, UdLliCU ^UlldllUUlCu/ . 


Landing vehicle, tracked (armored). 


Submarine chaser. 


Eagle boat. 


Gun boat. 


River gun boat. 


Motor torpedo boat. 


Motor boat submarine chaser. 




Coastal yacht 


63 -foot submarine chaser (Russia). 


Motor torpedo boat (Russia). 


Mine laying submarine. 




Ash lighter. 


District auxiliary, miscellaneous. 


Open lighter. 


Car float. 


Open cargo lighter. 


Aircraft transportation lighter. 


Floating derrick. 


Diving tender. 


Covered lighter; range tender; provi- 

sion store lighter. 


Ferry boat and launch. 


Floating drydock. 


Torpedo transportation lighter. 


Garbage lighter. 


Ambulance boat. 




Heating scow. 




Motor mine sweeper. 


Motor tug. 


Net tender. 


Gate vessel. 


Net tender (tug class). 


Fuel oil barge. 


Gasoline barge. 


Oil storage barge 


District patrol vessel. 


Floating pile driver. 


Pontoon stowage barge. 


Floating workshop. 


Submarine rescue chamber. 


Floating pile driver. 


Stevedore barge. 


Seaplane wrecking derrick. 


Salvage pontoon. 


Sludge removal barge. 


Harbor tug. 


Torpedo testing barge. 


Water barge. 

Note. Ships carrying prefix symbol B, except BB, and ships shown above with prefix symbol R, 
represent vessels under construction or conversion and being financed by Lend-Lease appropriations. 





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